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How important is a SWOT analysis in your strategic planning efforts?

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How important is a SWOT analysis in your strategic planning efforts?

  • Critical — you can’t have a strategic plan without a SWOT: 22.76%
  • Very — a SWOT is an important element of the plan: 34.14%
  • Somewhat — a SWOT can help but it’s not required: 20.00%
  • Not very — a SWOT has marginal value in planning: 5.86%
  • Not at all — a SWOT is a waste of time: 1.38%
  • What’s a SWOT analysis?: 15.86%

Understand the Market and Your Position. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is clearly an important element of any strategic plan. For those who see it as less important, I suspect it’s because the SWOT is done and then disregarded.  To use it effectively, think through the implications of the SWOT.  The strategic themes you identify in the SWOT should point you in the direction of major initiatives to pursue.  The better your SWOT is linked to your ultimate strategy, the more successful you can be.  If you need a primer or a brush up on conducting a SWOT, here’s a quick perspective on the topic.
Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, author of “Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results” and “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.”