It’s Time to Upgrade Your SWOT
Executives and strategists have a long history of utilizing the SWOT framework to guide planning efforts. From the initial assessment and scanning activities to the later development of actions to better position the organization for the future, much of traditional planning hinges on the SWOT. But as we’ve seen, traditional planning is being stressed by our VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous – rife with forces that increasingly make our traditional tools far less potent. Luckily, yet not without significant effort, new tools continue to emerge that better respond to the changing conditions in our ecosystems. The SWOT has aged, and not necessarily gracefully. And if you rely on a SWOT for your organization’s future choices, you are especially vulnerable.
It’s time to upgrade your SWOT!
In this article, the authors review the history of the SWOT, describe its components and functions, then go on to discuss its usage in planning and organizational change efforts. Limitations of the traditional approach open Part Two along with a discussion of the context of the near-term future of our ecosystems. The authors build a case for improving the tool in Part Three. The article concludes with a number of specific suggestions and upgrades, especially the internal SWOT components of strengths and weaknesses using more expansive and robust tools. One such tool is introduced, a provocative new framework for organizational diagnosis, and methodologies are explored for assessment, organizational design, and intervention to strengthen organizational capabilities.