SWOT analysis definition

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SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies.

Strategic Use: Orienting SWOTs to An Objective

A SWOT analysis must first start with defining a desired end state or objective. A SWOT analysis may be incorporated into the strategic planning model. An example of a strategic planning technique that incorporates an objective-driven SWOT analysis is Strategic Creative Analysis (SCAN)[1]. Strategic Planning, including SWOT and SCAN analysis, has been the subject of much research.


1.Strengths: attributes of the person or company that are helpful to achieving the objective.

2.Weaknesses: attributes of the person or company that are harmful to achieving the objective.

3.Opportunities: external conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective.

4.Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the objective.

Identification of SWOTs is essential because subsequent steps in the process of planning for achievement of the selected objective may be derived from the SWOTs.

First, the decision makers have to determine whether the objective is attainable, given the SWOTs. If the objective is NOT attainable a different objective must be selected and the process repeated.

The SWOT analysis is often used in academia to highlight and identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is particularly helpful in identifying areas for development.


Creative Use of SWOTs: Generating Strategies

If, on the other hand, the objective seems attainable, the SWOTs are used as inputs to the creative generation of possible strategies, by asking and answering each of the following four questions, many times:

1.How can we Use and Capitalize on each Strength?

2.How can we Improve each Weakness?

3.How can we Exploit and Benefit from each Opportunity?

4.How can we Mitigate each Threat?

Ideally a cross-functional team or a task force that represents a broad range of perspectives should carry out the SWOT analysis. For example, a SWOT team may include an accountant, a salesperson, an executive manager, an engineer, and an ombudsman.

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