From the Ask Tom mailbag –
You appear somewhat down on SWOT analysis as a planning tool?
It’s not the analysis part, it’s the opinion part. Most SWOT exercises are not analysis, but rather opinions, not tested by reality. Chuck Bamford, in his book Strategy Mindset tells the story. He was able to teach his eight year old son the SWOT methodology and asked him to conduct an “analysis” of his third grade class in school. Shockingly, his son declared the strengths of recess and lunch.
In our companies, we make million dollar bets on strategy. That strategy has to have some relationship to reality and requires a much harder examination than casual opinion.
Rather than making a SWOT list, I prefer an exercise we call “Critical Impediments”. It’s quick, easy and engaging, and provides a reference point for goal setting and project planning