Strategies to Use a SWOT Analysis in a Change Management Project

Risk SWOT Analysis Examples to Engage Your People in Change

Your senior leaders have identified the need to make change. To make it happen and achieve your goals, you must build a coalition for change. Bonding activities will help do this. Perhaps, though, there is something more fundamental you should be doing. Such as enabling your people to understand the need for change.

The first step in John Kotter’s 8-step process for leading change is to create a sense of urgency. One of the best methods for doing this is to undertake a SWOT analysis. You may have conducted this already at senior level. It’s how you identified the need to change. Could it also be used to engage all your change stakeholders in your change initiative?

What is SWOT?

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats:

  • Strengths

These are the things that you are good at. The skills and expertise that your organization possesses, the technology it uses, or trait that gives you a competitive advantage.

  • Weaknesses

These are the things that you are not so good at, or activities that your organization does poorly. It may be poor systems that put you at a disadvantage compared to your competitors, for example.

  • Opportunities

These are positive risks. For example, if you can order a product in bulk to achieve lower prices, or if a country removes tariffs so you can export more.

  • Threats

These are negative risks. They may create obstacles to sales, or roadblocks to achieving change –rising taxes and prices, shortage of supply, changing regulations, etc.

Notice that strengths and weaknesses are internal, while opportunities and threats are external to your organization.

SWOT analysis – a strategy for all times

While a SWOT analysis can be used to engage employees in recognition of the need to make change, it can also be used to identify what may obstruct a change initiative that is already underway from achieving its goals – or to determine a new direction or iteration of a change project.

By getting all stakeholders involved in a SWOT analysis, you create the opportunity for the openness and honesty that influences a positive approach and combats the fear of change in business

How to conduct a SWOT analysis

The process of conducting a SWOT analysis helps your people to identify with the need for change and invigorate the purpose that crushes resistance to change: instead of telling people what needs to be done to execute change, involve them in the why.

A SWOT analysis is best conducted as a methodical process, constructed in the following steps:

  1. Brainstorm to identify the strengths of your teams and your organization.

  2. Analyze these strengths, and combine them where they are similar.

  3. List these strengths in order, with your greatest strength at the top.

  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 for weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

  5. Develop strategies to:

  • Maximize your strengths to take advantage of opportunities and minimize threats

  • Minimize weaknesses that will prevent you taking advantage of opportunities and leave you susceptible to threats

Within project management, these opportunities, threats, and strategies should be incorporated as risk statement in your risk register.

Let your people create risk strategies

Regular SWOT analysis during a change project empowers your people to become involved in the creation of strategies to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. It gives change managers the opportunity to solicit feedback, and deliver positive messages that help to empower employees and maintain energy and enthusiasm for the change.

Risk SWOT analysis examples

While the process is relatively straightforward, undertaking a SWOT analysis on your organization or team for the first time can be uncomfortable. What should you look for? What should you discuss?

Remember, this can only be successful if you empower honesty and openness. You may hear things that surprise you and that you weren’t expecting to hear. The insight into your organization before, during, and after change can be eye-opening.

To give you a kickstart, we have put together this list of risk SWOT analysis examples:

  • Strengths

Consider your strengths, such as customer loyalty programs and your overhead structure, and the scalability of your internal systems. Perhaps you have high employee loyalty, low staff turnover, and a management team that has wide experience in your industry. Your IT team may be highly innovative, and your training and development programs may develop managers and leaders with exceptional success.

  • Weaknesses

You could be geographically limited, or have a weak online presence. Debt may be holding you back from necessary investment, and your sales and marketing might be weakly positioned to capture market share. Perhaps your customer services are scored low by your customers, your training is ineffective, and your cybersecurity is lacking integrity.

  • Opportunities

You are a leading authority in your industry, with a growing number of followers and connections on your social media accounts. Your customers are expanding their businesses, and actively seek your guidance. Recent regulatory revisions have made expansion into new markets viable. Government stimulus packages are helping to promote the products you sell and the services you provide, and there is more interest in traveling now.

  • Threats

Interest rate rises could hamper your ability to borrow to expand, and there may be a lack of appetite from investors to buy debt securities in your organization. Perhaps because of the economy, your customers are reducing their spending, or a competitor has upgraded its customer loyalty program to be more rewarding than yours. Maybe two competitors have announced a merger, or your star sales team has been approached.

Act on your SWOT

When you have completed your SWOT analysis, use it to help you develop strategies that will engage your stakeholders in the creation and execution of change. Allow it to aid your focus on business goals and strategic planning.

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