Apr 3, 2012

Put SWOT into Practice

I have learned from my good professors that SWOT analysis is useful. Not too many reasons needed to prove that.

It looks useful, indeed. What I found in practice was that nobody misses to make a SWOT and nobody actually uses it. Why?

In practice, I have never seen a project where SWOT was referenced in any way during the argumentation or the rationale. But! its only purpose seems to be ornamental.

People make it because and only because it looks good.

I believe though that this classic strategic tool deserves a little more attention from professionals.

Now think of chess, the strategic game par excellence. When two chess masters are confronting the tactics are supposed to be known by each.

The whole game depends on the strategy, and all the strategy a chess player needs to know is in the SWOT. In every position there are strong and weak fields which reveal opportunities and threats.

Most of the projects are not so complicated as a chess game so the question is if the SWOT is so essential for a chess master, why project managers do not really use it?

The difference is that, while projects make use of the SWOT only in scoping and planning phases, the chess master NEVER MAKES A MOVE without analyzing the position from the perspectives of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The lesson is simple yet valuable. Practically, the SWOT analysis can prove itself to be far more efficient in the developing phases of projects.

When a project starts, it gives no more than some indications on planning. But down the running project, when things get messy so often, SWOT can give real hints for action.

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