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The up-front SWOT analysis… So What??

have you already completed a SWOT analysis and asked: “So What?”

have you already completed a SWOT analysis and asked: “So What?”

Perhaps the single most common way to kick off a strategy process is with a SWOT analysis. But how often have you and your colleagues completed a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and asked, “So what?”
What did you actually do with it?

Too often a SWOT analysis become a “check-the-box” exercise, adding little or no value to your business planning efforts.A strength is a strength only in the context of a particular Where-To-Play and How-To-Win choice, as is the case for any weakness, opportunity and threat. So attempting to analyze these features in advance of a potential WTP/HTW choice is a fool’s game. This is why SWOT analyses tend to be long, involved, and costly, but not compelling or valuable. Think of the last time you got a blinding insight on the business in question from an up-front SWOT analysis. I bet one doesn’t come to mind quickly. The up-front SWOT exercise tends to be an inch deep and a mile wide.

The time to do analyses of the sort that typically turn up in SWOT analyses is after you have reverse-engineered a WTP/HTW possibility. That will enable you to direct the analyses with precision at the real barriers to making a strategy choice — the exploration will then be a mile deep and an inch wide.


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