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SWaTOL Analysis + Strategic Projects - Workbook


SWaTOL ANALYSIS EXERCISE- Similar to a SWOT, the difference is that a SWaTOL while still looking at Stengts and Weakness in a SWaTOL we focus on looking carefully at trends and identifying new or emerging opportunities. I prefer running a SWaTOL for small to medium businesses that are looking for rapid growth and doing a more traditional SWOT for medium to large companies.

You will be able to print out a PDF of your decisions at the end. 

SWaTOL is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, and Trends, Opportunities, Leverage. A SWaTOL is an assessment of your current reality, internally but then looking outward to Trends, identifying Opportunities, and then Leveraging those Trends with strategic initiatives.

Strengths and Weaknesses are internal — things unique to your organization.
Trends and Opportunities are external — things in your marketplace you could take action on.
Leverage — You leverage the most promising Opportunities by creating 1 to 3 Quarterly Strategic Projects.

A SWOT or SWaTOL should be updated every quarter to ensure what you have stated is an accurate reflection of your current operating environment. The pace of change is increasing, and you need to keep ahead of it. In the time of financial crisis or for companies looking for accelerated growth. I typically recommend a SWaTOL. If you are medium size business I like alternating between SWOT and SWaTOL to this will help you get ahead of known threats in your business environment. Your updated SWaTOL (“realistic assessment”) provides the context from which you will then choose the most important Strategic Projects to allocate your people, time, and resources in the coming quarter.
Some Guidance:

Clarify your Long-Term Strategic Moves first.

You need to be very clear on what your 3 to 5 Year Strategic Moves are because you need to prepare your SWaTOL analysis using those long-term moves as the context. You can only assess if you are strong or weak at something in light of where you ultimately want to end up, so your SWOT analysis needs to be done with your long-term strategy in mind.

Use a 12 month time horizon e.g. "Based on our 3 to 5 Year Strategic Moves ....."
"What strengths could we leverage or build on over the next 12 months that will help us get there?"
“What weaknesses could hold us back that we could fix or improve within the next 12 months?” 
“What opportunities could we pursue or invest in over the next 12 months to help us get there?”
"What threats do we need to mitigate, reduce or closely monitor over the next 12 months?"

State the truth in your SWaTOL.
You and your team must see things as they really are – and confront the brutal facts! For example, we have seen organizations who have cashflow problems not even mention this fact as a weakness – when it probably should be the #1 weakness!  

Think like an external investor.
Imagine an outside investor was performing rigorous due diligence on your industry and your organization with a view to investing in you, They are going to audit your financial statements, interview your staff, interview your customers, and study your competitors as part of their SWOT Analysis. Would they come to the exact same conclusions as you? Try to be as objective as an outside investor would be.

Be specificstate your SWaTOL in blunt, simple 3 to 5-word statements.
For each item use a brief phrase that would make it obvious to a new employee or outside investor reading your SWOT Analysis for the first time exactly what you mean

Clearly state the key issues using 3 to 5 words. A common mistake many organizations make is to use broad sweeping statements. This is an error. Clarity is critical.
 “Our people” is not a strength – what specifically about your people makes your team strong? 
 E.g.  “Highly qualified software engineers”
“Marketing” is not a weakness – what specifically about your marketing is weak currently? 
 E.g.  “Attracting insufficient target market leads”
“Communication” is not a weakness – what specifically is not being communicated? 
 E.g. “Strategy not well understood” 

Marc L Daniels
ResultsBI CEO, and Author

Please allow 30 minutes to complete this assessment.

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