1. What is SWOT?

SWOT is one of the easiest and most effective methods of analysis. It can be applied both to business processes (such as determining market positions or validating new product ideas) or personal decisions (such the progress of career).

The acronym SWOT stands for:

Strengths Weaknesses
Opportunities Threats

The development of SWOT is credited to Albert Humphrey, who tested the approach in the 1960s and 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Developed for business and based on data from Fortune 500 companies, the SWOT analytical process has been adopted by organizations of all types as an aid to making decisions.

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Long road to final dectination
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9. Why you need to validate ideas with SWOT?

In today’s article we will talk more about experience, because as we all know:

The only source of knowledge is experience.

The experience, which we would like to share with you, refers to our road to start CayenneApps. That road – to be honest – was quite long and had couple of unexpected turns and pit stops, but at the end we think it was required journey to find the right track.

Some time ago we felt a special urgency to start something new on our own, what would give us excitement, motivation and possibility of making decisions. This urgency has showed up during our work for different companies, where we have discovered  small influence on the final result and long time needed to come up with a solution.

So as we discovered our need,  we started to look for something that would use our skills in the field of software development, user experience and knowledge of different areas of business. Finally, we came up with first idea: Club.me.

Club.me

The idea of club.me was pretty simple as we thought at the beginning.

At that moment, we suffered from lack of service that would offer suggestion in which club in our city, we might find party which best fits our music taste. We thought that we would definitely use portal, that would take our playlist from last.fm website, compare it with available clubs and suggest the best place to go. We swung into action, even though we did not have any plan. But of course he had a lot of ideas how our service should look like.

After couple of weeks of brainstorming meetings, prototyping and even developing, the timid questions started to come to us: how are we going to convince clubs to be our users? Actually we still do not have an idea how to do it.

As a proof of our long engagement to the idea of club.me please look at the screenshots below. These were two different clickable versions of interfaces (yes, we even had time to prepare two versions).

Club.me - version first

First version of Club.Me

Club.me version first

Next Version of Club.Me

Beside working on our new “excellent product” we begun to look for ways to validate if our idea is not a bit overwhelming for us?

From this perspectiveowl we might ask: really, only a bit overwhelming?!  At that time, we had a little experience in making this kind of websites and a lot of faith and passion to go further towards dreamed service.

We felt that something is wrong, so we wisely looked for help in literature. We started to read books, which gave us a good deal to think about, inspired us and we are still challenged by them. The books, which we have read include:

  •  “Lean startup” by Eric Ries (we are continuously infected by the never-ending anxiety of hovering between ‘persevere’ and ‘pivot’),
  • “Running Lean” by Ash Maurya (changed absolutely our thinking about interactions with users and validated learning),
  • …and a bit later “Rework” by Jason Fried (convinced us that working and creating your own company at the same time is possible and this company does not have to be as large as Facebook to be successful)

So after reading “Lean startup”  we decided to do small pivot – “structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth”. 

At that time, we do not have an idea of: how to convince clubs to join website which do not have users and how to convince users to join website which do not have clubs. All we had to do was eliminating this necessity and then problem would be solved. Again: entrepreneur best friend  – wishful thinking. That is how the brand new idea, codenamed Placeherd appeared to us.

Placeherd.com – The herd of places

People should learn from their mistakes. Apparently: from at least two mistakes, because with Placeherd we have made the same errors, which built foundation to our first failure with Club.Me. I guess reading books once did not bring so huge change in our behaviours and for sure did not benefit in deep understanding of the idea behind Lean.

With Placeherd we assumed, that to feed website with content we should expand. Do not limit available places to clubs, but add other kinds: parks, statues, restaurants and so on… Here you can see of course clickable improved version of Placeherd, place where the content magically appears.

Placeherd - our second startup idea

Placeherd. Our second startup idea.

Meanwhile, one of our team members participated in time management training, where she learned that SWOT analysis can be used differently. We were profoundly inspired by the idea of conducting SWOT and evaluating relations between features. We could finally deliberate and validate our idea. First of analyses we have done were in Excel spreadsheet (we wanted to use some kind of tool but we could not find any that would support this method). The results for our beloved service were rather rough. Scale of the project, list of potential competitors (hello, have you heard about this small website called TripAdvisor?), lack of funds showed us that we were not prepared and we will not be second David who will defeat Goliath. We were confused and demotivated.

A road to CayenneApps

We firmly believed that the time has come to learn a lesson from past events. We started to validate every next idea with newly learned SWOT analysis (unfortunately Excel was not so helpful). Finally we stopped to waste our time on doing something that cannot be launched and verified in finite amount of time.

After spending some time on validating ideas with SWOT, we came up with an alternative thought. Why not create product based on SWOT itself and make the process easier for others. Let’s create an application which would help us and other entrepreneurs to save their time. 

Feedback we have gathered was pretty cool. People were actually eager to use this kind of tool. Moreover we realized, that the possibilities of our tool reach beyond ideas validation. SWOT can be used to personal development, marketing or SEO strategy defining, seeking for a job, looking for a flat, analysing new business opportunities in existing companies, or even building strategy for final World Cup teams… 

This is how our journey began! What about yours?

If you would like to try, how SWOT analysis would change your road, you can take this opportunity here: CayenneApps. Feel free to share with us your thoughts.

Read next: How to conduct SWOT analysis

World Cup Final - Germany
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8. Day after World Cup Final. SWOT beyond business.

What a game!

It was historical 113th minute, Mario Goetze scored and Germany won their fourth Cup in history.

For Argentina it was a disappointment, also because it was their best game in Brazilian finals. But it was not enough for Germany, which – to be honest – did not have another “wow” match, similar to ones with Portugal or Brazil.

It was also a interesting game for us at CayenneApps. We were wondering, whether the assumptions we made when we did our World Cup Final SWOT were correct or not. Interestingly we were not so far from truth 🙂

Here you can find more detailed description of conducting SWOT for World Cup: Germany vs Argentina – SWOT analysis.

Story of Argentina

Why Argentina lost – was it tactics or just lack of luck? Let’s take a look at SWOT. We suggested that Argentina should take aggressive strategy meaning:

Use your internal strengths to gain an advantage.

And for Argentina their biggest asset, identified on analysis were attacking abilities. Features which included Messi and other attackers involved over 50% percent of all points calculated for aggressive strategy. Yet they did not managed to overcome Germans.

What is important, they have their chances: Higuain had one after getting gift from Kroos in a first half and Palacio had his chance in second half. Argentina actually played more offensively than in other games and when they did Germans seem somehow lost.

But why this attacking power did not have impact on overall score? Let’s take another look at our analysis and check out impact statistic.

Impact shows which features have biggest impact on all strategies, not only the one with the biggest overall score. There we can see that their weakness:

Efficiency. Argentina scores little and when Messi is not scoring, they score even less. With Germany they can have only few situation to score the goals and they must make use of them.”

has impact equal to almost 40% which is actually more than impact assigned to their biggest asset Messi (which is 24%).

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 08.27.50

When we compare it to the situations they had it occurs that the insights included in SWOT were quite right: their biggest weakness was their lack of efficacy.

They had two or more opportunities but did not manage to use them. When we look close enough we can that the impact of weaknesses on opportunities (limiting) or threats (intensifying) was also significant – that is great example of showing that when analysing it good to overview all features we have, not only the ones connected to recommended strategy.

Story of Germany

Now let’s take a look at the strategy of winning team. We suggested defensive strategy, which means:

 avoid threats and try to eliminate weaknesses which has biggest impact.

 The biggest weakness we identified was their counter-attack vulnerability. Matches with Ghana and Algeria showed that this kind of assumption has solid grounds, but in final Germany did not put much more effort on defense, than in other games and yet they won. But this does not necessarily mean that defensive strategy was not good fit. Actually game ended after 120 minutes, with rather modest score 1:0.

Germany did not dominate Argentina, they did not flood their goal with thousands of shots. From this perspective their strategy was rather inefficient. For Argentina it was only 7 more minutes to penalties and what could have happen in such a lottery is different story.

Let’ take a look at the at the situation Palacio had in the second half. Long pass flies over Hummels and Argentine attacker has his one-on-one with Neuer, he misses but the opportunity was excellent. Now take a look at SWOT again: second biggest influence on defensive strategy for Germany is…

Long passes. Germany vs Algeria showed that German defense is quite fragile when the ball flies behind their backs. Nice!

When we analyze other recommended strategies we see that second biggest score (not so far from the winner) has Diversification strategy which mean that: strengths overcome threats.

The biggest strengths of Germany team were: midfielders and coach. Khedira did not play, but Schweinsteiger  and surprisingly Oezil had really good game. As for the coach: is there a better decision to put guy on the field, who scores 20 minutes later deciding goal?

Summary

Some of our team support Germany, some Argentina, so there are no winners here. The best thing that happened is that we showed that SWOT is not only limited to marketing, sales or business tasks.

It can be also applied to sports, politics or personal decision. It can be also really convenient and fun way to support decision making. One of my friends told me yesterday, that he is doing SWOT for buying new car – great stuff!

We encourage you to do the same. Take a look at: CayenneApps SWOT and try creating your own SWOT. If you think that you made something fun and interesting, please share it with us. We can take your work and allow you to share with everyone, just like we did it with World Cup Final. Where do you think SWOT may be applied – if you have some interesting applications, please leave a comment!

To learn more about SWOT and strategies, stay tuned. It will be the topic of our next posts.

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7. Who will win the World Cup? Germany and Argentina examined on SWOT.

Only two more days left to the Big Game. On Sunday, Germany will stand against Argentina in the World Cup 2014 Final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

  • Whether German midfielders will overcome great Argentine attackers?
  • Will Leo Messi finally score another goal?
  • Which tactics is better for Germany: to attack or to defend themselves?
  • Does Mascherano really make the difference?

To answer these questions we have created two special World Cup SWOTs: one for Germany and one for Argentina. We identified features of each team, based on materials found in newspapers or websites, conversations with our friends and our knowledge about the sport we all love. Then we run whole analysis and created insights about each team. It was real fun!

Germany should use defence strategy and the best strategy for Argentine is aggressive strategy with open atack!

Now, we would like to share it with the world.

Here is the special link: World Cup 2014 SWOTs with our SWOT analysis for both teams.

Everyone who clicks the link gets his own copy of analysis, so each and every person is allow to play with those analysis without any limits. Change the features which are important, add new ones, change rankings or relations and share the result with us! Maybe we missed something and the strategies should be totally different. Let us know and put your comments below this post. We have only two days left, this Sunday we will verify who was right!

Here you can find more detailed description of conducting SWOT for World Cup: Germany vs Argentina – SWOT analysis

If you find out any other feature, that is important please, comment this here, we might add it to shared to everyone SWOT 🙂

Cheers!

6. Germany vs Argentina deep SWOT Analysis (World Cup)

Todays post is quite different from others. It is also not so much connected to businesses, startups and planning. Interested? Read on!

SWOT could be fun!

Some people may think that the SWOT Analysis is good only for business and … it is actually quite boring. My thinking is that they could not be more wrong. SWOT is not about worksheets and wasting hours on analysis. SWOT is about deeper understanding the reality which is around us and last but not least: SWOT could be fun! Really!

Last wednesday we have been watching game between Netherlands and Argentina. Because before penalties round, there was not so much exciting moments on the field we started wondering who can win the World Cup. Majority of experts would say: “of course Germany”, but we thought that we need something deeper and fun. We looked on our computer and saw landing page of CayenneApps. The idea came to our minds in a second: “Let’s do SWOT!”. Yeah, let’s do this “so called boring business stuff” and show people that this could be fun! In the meantime Maxi Rodriguez shot last score and the stage was set. We are creating one SWOT for Germany and one for Argentina!

Here is the special linkWorld Cup 2014 SWOTs with our SWOT analysis for both teams.

What makes Germany great, what makes Argentina great?

We gathered some info from newspapers, websites, friends and ourselves (we love football (or soccer if you wish) !) and started building analysis. This brainstorming was such a fun, because some of us love German football and some are thinking that is real crap! Remember: this kind of differences make collaboration on SWOT so productive!

After the analysis we learned that Germany has really good midfielders such as Toni Kroos, great potential in attacking on right wing (the one where is Mueller and Lahm), but on the other hand the are really vulnerable to counter-attacks and long-passes, because we saw this in a game with Algeria!

As we proceeded to Argentina we learned, that they have great attackers and this not only limits to Leo Messi, but also applies to Lavazzi or Higuain. They are quick and they are great with technique. We noted that Mascherano is a great asset in defence, but on the other hand whole Argentina relies somehow on Messi and they are not playing great football on this tournament.

Take a look at some of the features we noted on Germany Team:

midfielderslahm

These are others for Argentina:

lavazzi mascherano

Here you can see full analysis for Argentina and here for Germany. Could be overwhelming to keep this in a worksheet, right? We are glad that we made CayenneApps to make this stuff easier.

How to play against each other?

Of course, to limit somehow the set of features we selected some of the features as more important. This way we learned that Argentina is really strong in attack and Germany players rule in the midfield. As we described in our series of posts we selected features, then evaluated them and last but not least we created relation between them. And now it is the biggest fun: waiting for result. We have not described yet, how the summary looks like but let’s make an exception. It is the World Cup for Gods Sake!

Checkout what we have discovered: Argentina should play aggressively and focus on attack, even though they have strong defence. The recommended strategy for them is aggressive. Take a look on some statistics, the one below shows what features selected and evaluated by us have the biggest influence on their suggested strategy. Go Messi, Go! Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 00.02.37

Here we can see what Argentinas features have the biggest impact on all possible strategies. First, strengths and second, weaknesses.

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 00.09.18 Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 00.09.51

Sounds nice, isn’t it? Let’s take a look at the other team: Germany. As we (or to be precise – our algorithm) analysed all the features we have created, we suggest Germans to focus on defence! Yes – CayenneApps officially recommends defensive strategy for Germany. This may not be the greatest choice for the show, but… each team would like to win, right? Whether it is 1:0 or 7:1! Take a look on the weaknesses of Germany which lead us to suggest defence:

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 00.14.48

And another look on strengths and weaknesses which have the greatest impact on all strategies: Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 00.16.28 Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 00.17.15

Who will win?

Of course, dear Mr Loew and dear Mr Sabella, we have a bunch of advices for you. Germany should:

Avoid threats and try to eliminate weaknesses which has biggest impact.

So please focus on defence and do not let Argentina to perform counter-attacks. And as for Argentina we suggest that they:

Use your internal strengths widely to gain an advantage.

Which means, use your skills to attack! Whether is regular attack or counter-attack, you must score. If you will focus only on defence Germans will sooner or latter score and there is nothing which can stop them then. Thats our opinion, backed by analysis done with CayenneApps. And what is your opinion? Please leave the comments! Who should win: Germany or Argentina?

Here is ones again the special linkWorld Cup 2014 SWOTs with our SWOT analysis for both teams.

5. How do features affect each other? Relation step.

Note: this is one of the posts in series: How to conduct SWOT? (Previous entries can be found here). 

In previous post we have discussed analysis, done selection step and evaluated selected features. Today it is time to focus on the last step of process which is:

RELATION 

Let’s take another look at the whole process.

4steps

In the previous step our main goal was assign value to the most important and valuable features. Now we can figure out how particular features affect each other.

Why one should check relations between SWOT features?

This knowledge is important to verify and dispel doubts, which may have occurred:

  • Do strengths help in taking use of  the opportunity or maybe I should develop other strengths to achieve my goal?
  • Do strengths minimize possibility of the threat become reality or I should look for other actions to reduce the risk of threats materialize?
  • Do weaknesses limit possibility to explore opportunities and they needed to be eliminated do identified before leaping at the chance?
  • Do weaknesses increase risk of failure and I should strengthen my position before further actions  or my weaknesses don’t influence my possibilities?

relation

Let’s look at practical examples of cases mentioned above:

New business ideas evaluation

Let’s assume you have got new idea for starting your own business. You probably thought long and hard about pros and cons and wrote them down, chose important features and evaluated them.

Now you need to check if your strength, for example: small company can change and adapt quickly will strengthen any opportunities? Let’s look at the screen beneath.

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 7.22.34 PM

As we can see one of the assets of the new company is its size and ability to adapt quickly. In this step we have decided that this strength may influence both: possibilities to gain customers and impact on decision process and realization of own ideas. This sounds like a reasonable choice: small and flexible company can change customer channels quicker, attract customers from social networks and so on. Likewise owning company is naturally connected to greater impact on decision making process and possibility of pivots. On the other hand, flexibility and size of organization does not influence neither time-to-profit nor existence of customer niche.

This way we create relations between internal and external features. Knowing these relations is itself a great asset for newly built company, but this knowledge can be pushed even further when we connect relations with features priorities.

Personal development – seeking for job offer

Creating relations is also useful in personal development. Example shown below was created by a user (let’s name her Anna), who wants to change job from local small company to big international corporation. Anna analyzed her current situation and noted all of the weaknesses related to it, then selected and evaluated features. Now it is time for relating features between each other.

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.21.36 PM

We can see that one of weaknesses is that Anna feels that tasks with time pressure make her feel stressed. Unhappily this limits the use of potential opportunities which may come with new job. Meeting new people is a great opportunity but may be difficult to utilize in stressful environment. The same can be applied to use of new language in practice – after all highly stressed people are likely to fail on extending their language skills. On the other hand, from her perspective this won’t affect her salary and job market position.

As we can the key is to find balance between these interactions. What Anna should think of is: whether she would feel comfortable with higher paid but more stressful job or should she seek job which has other attributes. The decision is of course hard, but SWOT can serve as a great support here.

Selections, priorities and interactions put all together

The important attribute of SWOT analysis is that it can be successfully employed to deal with dilemmas like the one described below. Should I start this new company? Should I change the job? On which strength or weakness should I focus first to acquire my goal.

When we analyze features we answer the question: what are the attributes of given situation, selections lets us decide which of them is important. While evaluating we answer the question: how important is this over that and finally, relations give us feedback on: how this interacts with that? 

Sadly, doing each of this activities in isolation won’t give us expected results, because they are somehow disconnected. Only when we put them all together we can see which factors has the greatest influence globally – which means in context of all data we have gathered.

This insights help us in creating proper strategy and identify areas on which we should focus. The method of creating this insights and making use of them will be the topic of our next post, so stay tuned! Meanwhile if you would like to see how to create relations and check out what results they can produce, please visit our website cayenneapps.com and use our SWOT Application!

4. Ranking features in SWOT. Evaluation step.

Note: this is one of the posts in series: How to conduct SWOT? (Previous entries can be found here). 

In previous post we have discussed analysis and selection steps. Today it is time to focus on the third step of process which is:

EVALUATION 

When you have collected and noted features in the four categories (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and selected the most valuable from each category, you are ready to move on to the next step, which is assigning values to selected features. Let’s take another look of whole process.

4steps

In the previous step our main goal was preselection of the most important and valuable features. Now we can figure out what value can we assign to selected features and create rank of features.

Why one should assign values to SWOT features?

Each company focuses its efforts on maximizing results in its core business areas. Each person tries to do the same regarding to his talents. Both company and person, try to not get distracted into areas where may have limited impact or expertise. We need to find out our strong characteristics (Strengths) which help us build our business or personal success most effectively and also address only those critical weaknesses, which truly prevent us from being successful. We are looking for these distinguishing features to use or eliminate and know exactly what results can we expect.

We can select important features, but it is common case that not all features are equally important (just like not all actions can be done by one person in the same time). Some of our strengths have greater influence on everyday actions and likewise some weaknesses limit us more than others. Still, all of them are important, but some prioritization is needed to work with them effectively.

Establishing where the company or person stands in terms of strengths and weaknesses is an important part of the discovery phase of strategic planning and creating goals. And well defined and selected goals help us to focus our energy, form plans, get the opportunities, and give us a feeling of accomplishment.

To fully understand our current situation we need to audit:

  • features that are part of our internal environment
  • external factors that influence us.

Evaluation is a important part of this audit.

How can we do Evaluation?

The easiest way  to evaluate  is to assign score for each selected feature. Here are some tips on how to do this easily:

  • Choose whatever scale you need, but the easiest method is to assign scores between 1-100.
  • Make sure that the total score of all features in given category is equal to 100.
  • Think about these 100 points as a 100$ budget or 100 minutes to distribute.
  • Higher score means greater importance of previously selected feature.
Strengths Evaluation in SWOT process

Sample of Strengths Evaluation in SWOT application CayenneApps.com

Look at the chart below. It contains example of three different evaluation for strengths in a business field.

Strengths evaluation on SWOT analysis

Three examples of strengths evaluation

The first example shows that idea for new product has the higher importance than the two other features, but it is not always the case. Second example show that all three features are more or less equally important, which is absolutely fine (do not create false prioritization when it is not your case). Third example shows that motivation to start business is much more important than the other features, which of course does not mean, that two other features are not important at all!

Remember: you are still working of previously selected features and all of them should be important to you.

Tip: When you assign values to features and some features tend to have very low estimation (like 1-5 points of so), it could be a possible warning. Check if these features are in fact important to you. Maybe there are other features, which has greater importance and were missed on selection step. Or maybe you need to rethink analysis step and find other features which potentially has greater influence.

Evaluation is not only limited to internal features (Strengths and Weaknesses), but also to external factors. Even though very often we do not have direct control over these items, still we can assign importance to them.

Below we can see an example for personal career development. Depending on your current situation intrinsic motivations such as using language in practice can more important than extrinsic motivators such as larger income. Or other way around.

Opportunities evaluation on SWOT analysis

Three examples of opportunities evaluation

More important features may have greater influence

The purpose of the evaluation is quite straightforward. Assign scores to the features and prioritize items. But using evaluation as the final insight could be trickier than people would think. Remember that whenever you decide to assign value, your opinion is only limited to the notion that the given feature is that much important to you. This kind of score is somehow deprived from the whole context and creating strategy is all based on context and interactions between different categories of features.

This means that more important features may and only may have the greater influence on final strategy. But it could also be the opposite. Strengths with higher ranking but with low level of interactions with opportunities may not necessarily impact your strategy in a way you would expect. Of course, the probability of greater impact is high, but not certain.

To identify strategy you need another step. This step involves defining relations between evaluated features and it will be topic of our next post. Stay tuned and do not forget to try out our application: CayenneApps SWOT and do your first analysis today! 🙂

Read next: Relation step