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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Personal SWOT Analysis

I am aware that SWOT analysis is used in market research to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved in a particular business project or venture. I have been using this technique in school during my undergraduate days and my current Masters degree.

An article published on discuss another use of SWOT. In the article, SWOT analysis is used on the author himself.

Personal SWOT Analysis
Wed, Sep 30, 2009 12:32 EDT

How performing a personal SWOT analysis can improve your IT organization

Once in a while I find it useful to apply corporate processes to myself. In my experience as CEO of Remote DBA Experts, one of the tools that has given me useful information is the SWOT analysis.

For those who are not familiar, the SWOT analysis is a method that strategic corporate planners use to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved in a particular business project or venture. Results are usually presented in a 2X2 matrix.

Take the Time

In order to successfully perform this analysis, you need to take some time out from the rat race to brainstorm. You need to identify an objective and evaluate how your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats, affect the success of achieving your desired objective. It is always useful for others to provide input for the process. Asking superiors, partners, subordinates, customers, etc for input will give you a much better perspective. You need to set your ego aside to do this, especially when it comes to the weaknesses and threats portion of the exercise. Now, if ego is too strong, do it alone. Some thinking is better than none.


Another important consideration is context. Roles are usually a good place to start. Pick one of your roles (i.e., Boss) to develop the SWOT around. Evaluate how this particular role relates to successfully achieving your desired objective. It is interesting to see how context makes a big difference. If you enjoy the process, you can delve into it by doing SWOTs for several of your key contexts and then look for common themes amongst them. This is good way to prioritize any action and identify particular aspects you wish to change or leverage in other areas.


To identify your strengths, you can leverage existing information from prior performance appraisals or feedback from others. For example, if you constantly hear that you are creative, organized, diligent, etc., it may be a hint that those attributes are your strengths. Use that as input. I also use feedback from an online test that is based on the Strengthsfinder book theory. I really like that one! By the way, keep in mind that while you have certain strengths now, you may develop more in the future. Understanding what you need, given your roles and goal, will shine a light on the strengths you should work on to help you accomplish your objective.


There are lots of theories that claim identifying or worrying about your weaknesses may be a waste of your time. In fact, I have also read that some weaknesses are there and cannot be changed. They are hard-wired/programmed in our brain. Nevertheless, identifying and recognizing those weak areas can help you determine if they are detrimental to your roles and goals. With that in mind, you can develop strategies to mitigate their effects on critical aspects of your life.


Opportunities are sometimes right in front of us and we do not see them. Missing opportunities is just like wasting time. They cannot be recovered. Constantly being on the look out for opportunities can pay big dividends. In fact, creating well-defined criteria for your opportunities will enable you to recruit help from others in keeping an eye open for you.


Threats can sometimes be sneaky. They show up out of the blue. This is another area that can benefit from some well-defined criteria and vigilance to make sure you do not miss the signal that can tell you ahead of time. If you want to get into it deeper, you can also develop contingency plans for the threats that seem most likely. That way if they do occur, you are better prepared for them.


Everyone should do a SWOT analysis at least once a year. And at least once a quarter, you should update the analysis with recent data.

Leverage Tool with Others

IT managers can also leverage this tool by encouraging others to do a similar exercise in context to their own job roles. As CEO of Remote DBA Experts, I encourage my team to perform SWOT analyses at least once a year. Furthermore, IT Managers can do group or mission-specific SWOT analyses to help them better manage their organization. As CEO of Remote DBA Experts, I encourage my management to

Focus on the Positive

I recommend SWOT be used as a positive non-punitive process. The idea is to leverage the good stuff (strengths and opportunities) and to mitigate the negatives (weaknesses and threats). To get the most out of this approach, you should focus on the positive aspects and not dwell on the negatives.

Keep it Short!

This is an exercise that is most effective when you focus your attention on a few things. Brainstorming can produce long lists. Take most of the time to really narrow the list down to the vital few. Make sure items are highly aligned with context. If you end up with more than three items in each area go back to the drawing board and cut it down. It will be worth the effort!

Personal SWOT Analysis [via]

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