Strategic SWOT Evolution for Robust Competitive Analysis: Why SWOT Fails

This is an image of an alarm clock for an article called why SWOT analysis fails and how to do something about it by octopus competitive intelligence and market intelligence

Strategic SWOT Evolution for Robust Competitive Analysis: Why SWOT Fails

SWOT analysis is one of those popular tools many use but rarely get the most out of. As you will likely know, it systematically evaluates strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. And then identifies potential areas of improvement. Despite its usefulness, many SWOT exercises often fail to anticipate future challenges. We will briefly examine some reasons for this failure and suggest ways to improve SWOT analysis exercises. This article asks why SWOT fails and how to do something about it. And read on if you are wondering why the picture of an alarm clock.

Lack of creativity

A reason for failing to anticipate the future in these exercises is the lack of creativity. Yes, the exercise is usually as dull as dishwater. SWOT often follows a standard format. This leads to a lack of creativity and a failure to consider unconventional ideas. Future challenges are often unforeseeable, and they may require creative solutions. Failure to consider strange/weird ideas results in a lack of preparedness for future challenges. 

A focus on the now

One reason for the failure to anticipate future challenges in SWOT analysis exercises is the tendency to focus on the present. SWOT is usually conducted to evaluate an organisation’s current situation. However, the present situation isn’t always a good predictor of the future. Trends, technologies, and social, economic, and political changes can all affect your future. Failure to consider these factors can lead to a lack of foresight. Everything should be future-facing. Otherwise, you are just doing an academic exercise. And that’s best left to the academics.

Just looking at the data

Another reason is the tendency to rely on the data without looking at the insight from competitive or market intelligence. And this use of just data is compounded as there is a focus on internal data only. Relying on internal data such as:

  • Financial statements, 
  • Past sales performance spreadsheets
  • Customer surveys
  • Employee reviews

Yet this data rarely provides a complete picture of your external environment. External data, such as:

  • Market trends
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • competitor activities
  • SEO benchmarking

These and others will create valuable insights into potential future challenges. Ignoring external data results in a limited understanding of the external environment. And an inability to anticipate future challenges. You are blind.

Doing it once a year

The lack of ongoing analysis is another reason for failing to anticipate future challenges. If you conduct SWOT exercises on an annual or bi-annual basis, then you are at risk. Why? Well, the external environment constantly changes, and future challenges may arise anytime. If you don’t conduct ongoing analysis, you will miss out. You will miss critical information and be caught off guard by future challenges.

A good SWOT also needs ego, office politics and keeping in with the boss to be thrown out of the window. SWOT can be destroyed by trying to flower over problems and look for the positive and negative in everything. Doing a SWOT the boss would like to read is a big failure. It must make us uncomfortable. So everyone is motivated to do something about the current and future situation. 

What can we do to improve SWOT analysis?

You can take steps to improve SWOT analysis exercises and anticipate future challenges. 

How about first conducting scenario planning exercises to anticipate potential future challenges? Scenario planning involves creating a number of possible future scenarios. Then determine how you would respond to each scenario. This exercise can help you identify potential future challenges and prepare for them. Or why not expand your data sources? Include external data and real competitive intelligence. Industry reports and competitor analysis provide valuable insights into your potential future challenges. Competitive intelligence added to it can smash the ball out of the ground.

What about encouraging creativity in your SWOT analysis exercises? By considering unconventional ideas, organisations can anticipate future challenges requiring unconventional solutions. Have you seen Amazon’s new weird dark series, The Consultant? Regus Patoff, played by the excellent Christoph Waltz, takes an alarm clock out of his drawer. You know, the type with He then throws it at someone around the table. The team has to come up with ideas before the bell goes off. The series is weird but brilliantly written, which is the reason for the above image. You can conduct ongoing external environment analysis and reassess their SWOT analysis regularly. Keeping up to date with changes externally to be better prepared to anticipate the future. Use an external agency, too. We are sure you will know whom we would recommend 🙂 But remember Buying Competitive Intelligence Doesn’t Mean You Have to be Mugged Off.

Another article that may be of interest is titled Why Competitive Intelligence is Important Even When You Have Access to a Database?

Strategic SWOT Evolution

The shortcomings of traditional SWOT analysis necessitate a fresh, innovative approach – one we prefer to term “Strategic SWOT Evolution”. It intertwines astute competitive intelligence with conventional SWOT methodology, enhancing its capability to decipher the competitive landscape. Through a lens that captures real-time insights and strategic foresight, the evolved SWOT process stands resilient amidst the dynamism of the market, ensuring your analyses are not just current but also future-proof. At Octopus Intelligence, we reimagine SWOT, developing it into a strategy that’s deeply intertwined with competitive insights, presenting you with a snapshot of your position and a dynamic, strategic mapping of your competitive environment.

Strategic SWOT Evolution for Robust Competitive Analysis: Why SWOT Fails

In conclusion, this article asked why SWOT fails and how to do something about it. SWOT helps evaluate an organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. However, it often fails to anticipate future challenges. By expanding data sources, encouraging creativity and conducting scenario-planning exercises. Conducting ongoing analysis to improve their SWOT analysis exercises and predict the future. 

Let’s talk…

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Home » Blog » Analysing competitive intelligence » Strategic SWOT Evolution for Robust Competitive Analysis: Why SWOT Fails

What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding & critical analysis of information to make sense of what’s happening & why. Predict what’s going to happen & give the options to control the outcome. The insight to create more certainty & competitive advantage.

This is a drawing of the Octopus Intelligence Logo By Octopus Competitive Intelligence, Due Diligence, Competitor Analysls, Market Analysis, Competitor Research and Strategic Business Development to beat your competitors, increase sales and reduce risk

We help you be more competitive

Bespoke, people-powered competitive intelligence to create insight you can do something with. We help you be more competitive:

  • Make better decisions and beat your competitors.
  • Win more business.
  • See what’s next and reduce risk & exposure.

We're all about your competitive advantage.

But enough about us, tell us about your problems for us to solve:

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.