SWAT the SWOT and Make a KISS

I’ve had many occasions to consider a SWOT analysis for my group, my department, my company or when coaching a business or considering strategy as a board member. Unfortunately, I find this analysis is often superficial and done poorly. Strengths are usually the best part of the analysis. Weaknesses become everything else. Opportunities are often set to correct the weaknesses and the threats are often a repeat of the weaknesses. So, I often don’t find useful information in this strategy tool because it is not well understood for many startups and SME businesses. That’s why part of me wants to swat it away like a bug that is bothering me. Yet, there is another way to look at SWAT.

In police and military terms, SWAT is Strategic Weapons And Tactics. How might this be adapted to be a strategic analysis tool for startup, micro, small and medium businesses? 

  • Strategy should be built upon your Superiority in some area, your Unique Selling Proposition
  • What Weapons do you have in terms of your strengths for sales, production, distribution, marketing to implement your strategy?
  • How can you Accelerate the growth of your business in revenue and profits and improve your balance sheet and cash flow? What more can you provide to existing customers that appreciate your strengths? What new customers can you approach with either your existing products or simple modifications to them? How can you turn a product sale into a subscription service?
  • Tactically what are your near-term goals and objectives to move the business forward. It takes effort to overcome the friction inside the business, the resistance to change of employees to get to the point where the force (F) you apply to the mass of the business (M) achieves the acceleration (A) that you envision (F=MA). Another approach to the “T” is to consider your competitors and the threats they are to your business based on their strategy. I find too few startup, micro, small and medium businesses do not really know who their competitor is and what they are really doing. Sometimes, sales people in the field know, but the people back at home base don’t ask them or believe them.

So, I suggest you take a flyswatter and swat the standard SWOT analysis. Instead, do a SWAT for Special Weapons Accelerating Tactics and throw in some love with a KISS. No, not the standard you are thinking of, but Key Indicators for Significant Success.