SWOT Analysis

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Engineering Areas
Assessment & evaluation
Group or individual
Group, Individual
Amount of people
Up to 15, 15-25
Type of activity
Collaborative team setting, On-line Classroom activity, Self-work by students
Duration
Between half an hour and one hour, Between one and two hours
Type of class
Practice-based

Description

What is this technique about

SWOT Analysis Technique enables participants/engineers to assess the internal and external factors effectively. Strategic planning is important, and therefore, most strategic planning approaches require identifying strengths and weaknesses of/in a process.The SWOT technique is frequently used in the business world. Although it is generally preferred within the scope of strategic purposes, it is possible to apply it to develop creativity. The name consists of the abbreviation of the four elements that make up the technique itself.

    • Strengths: strengths of your project over other projects
    • Weaknesses: weaknesses of your project compared to other projects
    • Opportunities: All factors that can reveal the advantageous aspects of the project
    • Threats: All factors that may cause disruptions and obstacles in the project process

Where does it come from 

Chemical Engineer Albert S. Humphrey of the University of Illinois is known as the main author of the SWOT technique (Sarsby,2016). Humphrey is a business consultant specializing in corporate governance and cultural change. The technique emerged as the product of research that interviewed more than 5,000 executives from 1,100 companies funded by Fortune 500 companies (Sarsby,2016).

For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)

SWOT analysis makes it easy for users to discover new solutions for taking decisions in complex situations and uncovering alternatives in the context of potential threats. The SWOT analysis outlines where change is likely and reveals possibilities as well as strengths and weaknesses that are useful in setting priorities. SWOT analysis can also be used to improve current ongoing plans and explore different opportunities.

How to use it

SWOT analysis will give you a different experience to discover yourself. Next, break up your class into groups that are not too big (5-7 students). After creating the groups, give them 20-30 minutes to brainstorm and explore Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats and fill in their charts. Encourage them not to hesitate to voice their opinions. Explain to the groups that many different ideas come together to form a new whole. Make a list and narrow it down to those which have any potential to create novelty or less for the analysis to work really well. Give all groups the same attention, and help all groups gather and organize their perceptions and ideas. Work your way through filling out the SWOT chart, starting with the strengths and continuing with the weaknesses. If students find it difficult to do this, ask them to write down the “most important” feature that may correspond to each category. In this way, they can progress in each category in order. Do not neglect to ask the groups to report on the situation and give them a voice when necessary. Finally, ask participants for a report that they can submit online to see the results.

How to implement this techniques online

Preparation, what do before the session

    1. Install applications such as Zoom and Teams to connect to the lesson via online video conferencing and have your students get these applications as well.
    2. You need a good spreadsheet to be able to apply the technique. You can choose Roobrix or Rubistar for this. Roobrix or Rubistar can offer more effective analysis than classical tabulation.
    3. Do not forget to create an account with these tools and share access to them (prepare students for using them).
    4. There may be some of your students who do not know the SWOT analysis method. For this reason, prepare a short presentation about SWOT for them before the lesson and present it before application.

During application, i.e., while giving the session

    1. Introduce the SWOT method. Explain in detail what each tile in your chosen SWOT model represents and how to use it.
    2. Introduce the purpose and process.
    3. You can divide each group into rooms so they can analyze their discussion points. Microsoft Teams application will benefit you in this regard.
    4. Ask the groups to use your template.
    5. Ask them to write Strengths on the left, Weakness on the right, Opportunities on the lower left, and Threats on the lower right of the four squares obtained.
    6. At this point, advise them to also brainstorm and send them into breakout rooms. 20-30 minutes will be enough for this.
    7. Finally, ask them to show their results by sharing the screen.

Follow-up, about what to do after the session

    1. Ask your students to make a report of their results and share them with you. In this context, provide feedback on their ideas for new projects.

Examples and/or testimonials

The below is an example of how the method was prepared and facilitated in February 2021 by a student group during the course “Megatrends and Technological Innovation” held by Prof. Dr. Patricia Wolf at the University of Southern Denmark.

Facilitator instruction guide

Session 3: SWOT (15 minutes)
Opening phase part 2,
Thomas & Kamilla

09:40 – 09:42: Introduction to the SWOT exercise (2 min.)

    • Purpose: Mapping an overview, using the output in the closing
    • Intuitive exercise
    • Individual exercise (in two groups)
    • One overview everyone has access to (per group) + Where to find the overview.
    • Using the 3-word combination and link to distributed management

09:42 – 09:45 Time for the participants to find the SWOT exercise (3 min.)

    • Explain the exercise that they are about to do
    • To fill out the SWOT analysis, participants must use sentences that are related to their 3-word combination
    • The participants will fill out the SWOT using sentences related to their word combination, but they can ALSO use sentences not related to their words
    • Make them go to their own MS Teams folder (group 2 & 8)
      • Group 2 –> SWOT overview A
      • Group 8 –> SWOT overview B

NB: Make sure that every participant has opened the right overview and is ready to start

09:45 – 09:50 Participant to fill out the SWOT overview (5min.)

    • Use background music to avoid any conversation
    • Remind the participants to use the 3-word combination and let them know that they will have approximately 2 min. to fill out the SWOT
    • Set the timer while playing music in the background and start the exercise

09:50 – 09:55  Finalizing the SWOT exercise (5 min.)

    • Share screen summarizes the results in the front page of the PowerPoint slide to get a total overview of their results
    • Ask the participants questions to clarify some of the answers

Thank you

 

SWOT Method, HYDAC Challenge, 2021, group 8

Strengths – distributed management

Effective and fast responses because the employees plan their work individually.Fast and efficient decision makingCreative input from a larger knowledge base, due to “lower level” employees having responsibilities increasedNo waiting for approvalsStrategic use of management system to achieve goalsGood opportunity to recruit top peopleEmpower employees with decision making power

Weakness – distributed management

Lack of detailed planning and co-creation sometimesPossibility of losing the overview due to a weak reporting to the top authorityProblems with aligning all actions to a holistic strategyThere is a lack of co-creation between the employeesProblems with promotions – not knowing who should get promotedBoss less organization may lack communication and therefore have problems and lossesLack of authority and power can reduce accountability, when direct reports are not clear

Opportunities – distributed management

Using globalization to connect with people around the worldTransform the workforce into a more digitally empowered low-hierarchyEmpowered employees are more efficient and productiveIncreased diversity of the workforce can lead to an even wider portfolio of competenciesDue to globalization there are huge opportunitiesDiversity hiring as means to enrich the workforce

Threats – distributed management

New ways of organizing workforce, maybe distributed alone is too one-dimensionalPandemicShareholders can be seeing the distribution as top management sacrificing their accountability. Can also see this as reducing profitNot fully grasping digital opportunities and therefore falling behind/shortNot having ear on the ground and missing out on major shifts in workforce expectations of future generationsNo communications, so loss of opportunities

Tools needed

To apply this technique in an online setting, the following tools are required:

    • An assessment tool
      • Roobrix
      • Rubistar
      • These tools provide you to create more effective rubrics. Excel is an alternative.
    • An online video conference tool- such as Zoom and Teams to communicate and include participants.
    • A text document
      • MS Word
      • Evernote
      • Here, Evernote would be more efficient because it can be downloaded.

Resources

Links

Renault, V., The Community Tool Box. (n. D.). Section 14. SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/swot-analysis/main

Method description on becreate.ch: https://www.becreate.ch/en/methods?tx_mxnbecreate_pi1%5Baction%5D=show&tx_mxnbecreate_pi1%5Bactivity%5D=97&tx_mxnbecreate_pi1%5Bcontroller%5D=Activity&cHash=6742c083a5eb386bc1949b96b3ce7b48&L=1

Videos

damiantgordon. (2015, March 16). Creativity techniques – 2. SWOT analysis. [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKNVreM1raw

Papers

Anastasiu, L., Gavriş, O., & Maier, D. (2020). Is human capital ready for change? A strategic approach adapting Porter’s five forces to human resources. Sustainability, 12(6), 2300

Humphrey, A. (2005) SWOT Analysis for Management Consulting. SRI Alumni Newsletter. SRI International, United States

Sarsby, A. (2016). SWOT analysis

Westhues, A., Lafrance, J., & Schmidt, G. (2001). A SWOT analysis of social work education in Canada. Social work education20(1), 35-56

Books

Dess, G. G., Lumpkin, G. T., & Eisner, A. B. (2010). Strategic management: Text and cases. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin