1st Executive Blog

18 May Can SWOT be your Saviour?

At times like this, strategic planning may be looked on whimsically as something that we used to do. However, all that has changed are the parameters. We actually need to do strategic planning in our leadership roles more often and probably less precisely. Being directionally right, and implementing fast are key.

It is for these reasons that we believe that one of the oldest strategy planning tools in the toolkit, the SWOT analysis has become critically important, and mastering it essential in leadership development.

A Meaningful SWOT

The one caveat I want to add to this is that we do not mean the simple SWOT analysis that is typically done early in a strategy session, recorded and then maintained in the planning file as an item of curiosity. Within the Mindshop network, we have always had a different approach to a SWOT analysis and understand the requirements to bring it to life and generate meaningful work.

Many of you will be familiar with a SWOT analysis as simple 2 x 2 matrix with one pane for each of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The problem has always been what to do with the analysis.

Our approach is simple, there are still four panes, but these are for actions. The actual SWOT analysis sits on the outside of the action panes as follows:



  • Customers
  • Bus Experiences
  • Staff
  • Finances


  • Consulting skills
  • Size
  • Product Range
  • Resistance to Change


  • VA Products
  • Acquire Other Firms
  • Geographical expansion
  • Alliance
  • Left Sales to Existing Clients
  • Acquire a new Business
  • Consulting firm
  • Annual Planning Day
  • Joint International Network
  • Strategic Alliances


  • No Changes
  • Competitors
  • Loss key clients
  • Loss of leader


  • Remove negative people
  • Bus plan top 20% Clients
  • Document all Processes
  • Target weak Competitors
  • Jane to head Consulting
  • Publicise Targets

The collection of the Strengths, Weaknesses, opportunities and Threats is still facilitated in the same way, but that is only half of the exercise. This is followed with four simple questions:

· How can I use these strengths to commercialise/realise these opportunities?

· How do I use these strengths to overcome these threats?

· What do I do to make sure that these weaknesses don't spoil these opportunities?

· What if these weaknesses combine with these threats, what corrective action will I need to take?

With the final responses noted in the pane where the intersection between the horizontal and vertical axes, based on the question asked, occurs.

Leadership Diagnostic Tool

How it Might Save Your Business Now

As business leaders reading this get their heads around the elegant simplicity of this approach, the question arises - why is this so important now?

Working through the Pivot stage of your Survive – Pivot – Thrive roadmap, there is no doubt that over time your businesses Strengths and Weaknesses may change a little. In the short term, that may be barely noticeable. However, what is guaranteed, and what you have already seen is that the Threats and Opportunities will change frequently, very quickly and sometimes quite dramatically.

There is no doubt in our mind that this factor alone makes a Strategic SWOT analysis and reality check almost a weekly necessity at the moment.

Please feel free to add some comments, or get in touch for some more information on this process and a practical Excel tool that you can apply as frequently as you need to.