SWOT Analysis (short for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) is a business strategy tool to assess how an organization compares to its competition. The strategy is historically credited to Albert Humphrey in the 1960s, but this attribution remains debatable. There is no universally-accepted creator. Also known as the SWOT Matrix, it has achieved recognition as useful in differentiating and establishing a niche within the broader market. Beyond the business world, SWOT Analysis can also be applied to the individual-level to assess a person's situation versus their competition further. There are both internal and external considerations build into the tool. "Strengths" and "weaknesses" are internally-related. The former representing a facet of an organization/entity which lends it an advantage over the competition. The latter being characteristics of that same entity which lead to a relative disadvantage against the competition. Regarding externally-related, "opportunities" are realities in the greater environment which can be exploited to benefit the entity. While on the other hand, "threats" are realities in the greater environment which might lead to problems for the entity.
The concept of strategic fit, a ubiquitous objective sought by all organizations, can be explained as to how well the internally-related factors fit with the externally-related factors.
While the SWOT analysis is widely known to facilitate the formation of organizational or personal strategy by assessing internal and external elements, it also has its criticisms. In fact, some critics feel that the tool proves to be too superficial and formulaic consequently hindering performance as outputs might be misunderstood or misused. This latter point is especially pertinent when SWOT analysis is attempted without real critical reflection by a collective group. Having only a few individuals perform the assessment increases the risk of misrepresentation of the SWOT inputs, leading to erroneous outputs. Also, organizations can anchor on one facet of the analysis, losing sight of the other critical elements of the matrix. Lastly, the SWOT captures the internal and external aspects of a single time-point. In reality, the environment is rapidly evolving.
Given that the SWOT Analysis looks at factors both inside and outside an entity, it is also occasionally labeled as an Internal-External Analysis. In consideration of the broad nature of the tool, it has both organizational and individual utility. Although borne out of the business world, it does have clinical applicability such as at the organizational level.
At the level of hospital or clinical offices, implementation of SWOT is achievable by asking questions such as the following:
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