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Tools Like SWOT and TOWS Can Be Used to Effect Positive Change


You have invited your staff to take a SWOT analysis of the company again and they are not enthused. Every couple of years they go through the wringer to assess the performance of the business, but nothing is done with the information that is revealed during the process. Conducting a SWOT analysis of your business and not using the result to gain competitive advantage, is like being diagnosed with a treatable illness and think by ignoring it, it will go away.

A SWOT analysis is an exercise that “examines the good, the bad and the ugly things going on in your business – from both an internal and external perspective. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

“Strengths and Weaknesses are internal factors, which mostly focus on the present and are under your control – i.e. what is happening in your business. Opportunities and Threats are external and focus on the future but are mostly outside of your control – i.e. what could happen.”

Oxford College of Marketing in an article titled “Turning Your SWOT Analysis into Actionable Strategies” shared some useful tips on how to move your organization’s strategy beyond the planning state. According to the article, a TOWS analysis is a variant of a SWOT analysis and is an acronym for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Strengths. A TOWS analysis enables an organisation to match its internal strengths, and external opportunities (SO) to develop ‘maxi-maxi’ strategies – those with the greatest potential for success.

Here is how: Strengths–Opportunities. Use your internal strengths to take advantage of opportunities. To do this, you must ask yourself which of the company’s strengths could be used to maximize the opportunities you identified?

Strengths-Threats. Use your strengths to minimize threats. To do this, ask yourself how could you use the company’s strengths to minimize the threats you identified?

Weaknesses-Opportunities. Improve weaknesses by taking advantage of opportunities. Ask yourself what action(s) could you take to minimize the company’s weaknesses using the opportunities you identified?

Weaknesses-Threats. Work to eliminate weaknesses to avoid threats. Finally, ask yourself how could you minimize the company’s weaknesses to avoid the threats you identified?

Inaction by management leads to no confidence in company leadership. There are more tools at your disposal than you think you have. Use them to effect positive change.

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