Going Beyond a SWOT Analysis

By George Black | Business Strategy

SWOT Analysis is not a new tool. In fact, many entrepreneurs and organizations have used it for over 50 years. It is a framework through which a firm identifies its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Although SWOT may be the best known, there are number of other tools available that are similar, but different. Let’s take a quick look at a few of them:

The Hits and Misses of SWOT

SWOT is a simple analytical framework that looks into the potential of an organization given the available opportunities and threats.

In other words, it collects information via environmental analysis which separates internal strengths and weaknesses of an organization from the outward opportunities and threats.

~ Hits 

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SWOT Analysis has been used as a basis for the development of projects and business ideas. It can be broadened into matching and converting, where the former involves linking strengths and objectives while the latter means turning weaknesses and threats into opportunities.

The tool has less cost and sometimes none at all. It can work for you in situations where the time to address a complicated situation is rather limited. With the tool, entrepreneurs get to understand their business better, develop goals and viable strategies for realizing them.

~ Misses

Despite its applicability and success, it has also received criticism in various aspects. It is speculated that the words represented within the acronym itself are rather misleading. The primary image that often comes to mind on hearing the term "threats" is a considerable amount of danger.

On the other hand, weaknesses can be mistaken for a person’s inadequacy in fulfilling their goals, which is not a good thing. The emphasis on the internal and external environments categories has been thought to be limiting. As an analysis method, it has been used at the beginning of projects then forgotten afterward when the business picks up.

Summary:

  • Hits - SWOT Analysis is a low to now cost tool that links strengths to objectives and turns weaknesses into opportunities.
  • Misses - The words "threats" and "weaknesses" can be misleading and can be misleading. 

Alternatives to SWOT Analysis: 

To address the inadequacies of the tool, people have seen it wise to come up with alternative methodologies to replace this contemporary form of analysis. This article provides you with an in-depth review of these options.

~ SCORE 

SCORE is an acronym for strengths, challenges, options, responses, effectiveness. ​​​

It may seem a little too close to the tool above, however with a change in terminologies to a more friendly tone. It replaces the defeatist words in the former method of analysis. For instance, the term challenges in SCORE still shows the possibility of difficulties but goes ahead to outline a higher probability of getting solutions. Though it may be a little vague in some contexts, it clears off the aspect of negativity as a method of analysis.

For instance, in a situation where a company poses a threat to your product for being wealthier or more extensive in the market; SCORE is very applicable. You will employ SCORE to list why you are weaker to the company and the kind of competition it poses to you. You can then jump right to outlining the list in your options and responses catalog with regards to the threat. SCORE then prompts you to find out the effectiveness of the responses you have come up with.

SCORE, therefore, provides the room for planning for prospected obstacles, unlike SWOT that leaves you with just the list of threats you face. SCORE structures your way to success in a precise manner.

~ SOAR 

This is a more modern analysis method as compared to SWOT and SCORE. The words for SOAR are Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results.

It goes ahead to eliminate all the negative criteria in the analysis that can be considered misleading since it is hard to plan for possible problems arising during the Business Growth when they weren’t initially catered for in the primary program. Hence, most people have considered it idealistic. SOAR seeks to harmonize the five I’s in the analysis which includes:

• Initiate
• Inquire
• Imagine
• Innovate
• Inspire and implement.

It is meant to provide people with motivation and will during their planning process. However, those with made minds might not need some of its aspects like the ‘imagine’ stage. SOAR also relies heavily on the appreciative inquiry as a tool. It requires those involved in planning to take affirmative action and brainstorm on the best development strategies. It goes a long way in the creation of fantastic ideas and uniting people when followed to the latter.

~ NOISE 

NOISE stands for Needs, Opportunities, Improvements, Strengths and Exceptions. It was established by Michael Cardus from the Creative Learning Association. Just like the SCORE, it omits the negative wordings. The ‘needs’ aspect of it represents the problems. NOISE transforms present issues from what an individual or firm lacks into things that need to be accomplished or objectives that have to be met.

Noise brings in a new concept of the exceptions which as per the Cardus’ site as ‘Of the N, O and I what is already happening, even just a little bit?’ It pushes for cooperation between members of a team, and instead of focusing on the current problems; there is a shift to using or developing the tested and proven methods available. The starting point for the NOISE method is the utilization of past positive experiences such as the best team interactions that lead to Business Growth.

The only problem with the method is that moving forward when always looking behind can be a bit tricky and this might lead to future problems. Dwelling on the previous success may bring about a sense of relaxation such that no team member is trying to unearth new solutions to problems or better ways of doing stuff.

Conclusion: 

Therefore, to attain Business Growth, you need to find the one that works best for you. All the discussed analysis methods in the article provide different variations from the original SWOT analysis. They all are geared towards positive development, though some more than others. The application of these analysis methods is rather flexible and you can customize them or merge any of them to provide you with your desired results.

Summary:

  • SCORE - provides room for planning and overcoming obstacles. 
  • SOAR - is meant to harmonize the 5 I's and provide motivation and will during the planning process. 
  • NOISE - transforms present issues from what an individual or firm lacks into things that need to be accomplished or objectives that have to be met.
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About the Author

George is author of "The Next Level Entrepreneur" and has spent more than 25 years of working with companies of all sizes guiding them to their Next Level. He draws on his extensive business acumen to provide direction, growth solutions, and clarity to millennial entrepreneurs.

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