Summary: SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis is a tool or technique that can be used in business, design or personal settings to evaluate a project or company and to create constructive goals and strategies.
Originators: George Albert Smith Jr., Kenneth Andrews, Albert S. Humphrey (1927-2005)
Keywords: decision making, goals, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, strategy tool, management, business, external issues, internal issues, growth, performance
The exact origin of SWOT Analysis has been debated.[i] Some people believe that it originated in the 1950s at Harvard Business School and was the work of professors George Albert Smith Jr and Kenneth Andrews. Others believe it was created by Albert S. Humphrey in the 1960s during his time at the Stanford Research Institute. Regardless of its origins, SWOT analysis has become quite popular, and may be one of the most widely used management decision-making tools among business managers.
SWOT Analysis gathers data about internal issues within a company or project – strengths and weakness – and external issues outside of the company or project – opportunities and threats. It then analyzes this data to inform future goals, decisions, and strategies. The ultimate goal of SWOT analysis is to achieve a more successful outcome; for a company, the goal may be to improve performance and enhance growth.
Application of SWOT Analysis
One of the most appealing feature of SWOT analysis is its universal applicability. SWOT analysis can hypothetically be used by any type of organization as a decision-making tool. It can also be used by individuals for similar purposes. Consider the following examples.
EdTech designers – As a project is created, SWOT analysis can identify factors that lead to the eventual success of the project, while also considering risks and areas that need improvement.
Small and medium companies – SWOT analysis of small and medium companies can consist of formulating, implementing, and evaluating strategies that lead to improvements in productivity, performance, and successful operation of the company.[ii]
Farming and agricultural development – Researchers have shown the use of SWOT Analysis in the context of farming and agricultural development in Iran.[iii]
Private schools – SWOT analysis was used in an attempt to improve two different private schools. The researchers stated that the analysis benefited one of the schools by allowing it to “advance in the face of growing challenges thereby leading to its stability and increased productivity."[iv]
Nursing policy – Researchers have used SWOT analysis to consider the nursing policies of multiple European countries. Their analysis allowed them to identify factors that prevented collaboration between countries.[v]
You can download a printable SWOT Analysis Template below (in Word and PDF formats).
[i] Madsen, D. O. (n.d.). SWOT analysis: A management fashion perspective. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dag_Madsen/publication/299278178_SWOT_Analysis_A_Management_Fashion_Perspective/links/56f05fee08ae70bdd6c94a74/SWOT-Analysis-A-Management-Fashion-Perspective.pdf
[ii] Houben, G., Lenie, K., & Vanhoof, K. (1999). A knowledge-based SWOT –analysis system as an instrument for strategic planning in small and medium sized enterprises. Decision Support Systems, 26, 125-135.
[iii] Ommani, A. R. (2011). Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) anlysis for farming businesses management: Case of wheat farmers of Shadervan District, Shoushtar Township, Iran. African Journal of Business Management, 5(22), 9448-9454.
[iv]Ifediora, C. O., Idoko, O. R., & Nzekwe, J. (2014). Organizations stability and productivity: The role of SWOT anlysis an acronym for strength, weakness, opportunities and threat. Internatinal Journal of Innovative and Applied Research, 2(9), 23-32.
[v] Uhrenfeldt, L., Lakanmaa, R., & Basto, M. L. (2014). Collaboration: A SWOT anlysis of the process of conducting a review of nursing workforce plilicies in five European countries. Journal of Nursing Management, 22(4), 485-498.