In this activity, students will complete a S.W.O.T. Analysis for a business. A S.W.O.T. Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a common business tool used by entrepreneurs, as well as companies like Ford, Coca-Cola, and Google, to identify internal (Strengths and Weaknesses) and external factors (Opportunities and Threats) that will affect the company’s performance either currently or in the future. Conducting a S.W.O.T. Analysis can be a valuable exercise not only for companies, but for individuals as well. Both companies and individuals can reflect on their competitive advantage in the market.
- Businesses typically conduct a S.W.O.T. Analysis as a strategic planning tool that can help the business with the following:
- Driving the decision-making process (sound judgment) as the business reflects on where it is now and where it wants to go in the future.
- Reflecting on what the business’s real strengths and weaknesses are (knowledge) as opposed to its perceived ones.
- Relate strengths and weaknesses to critical keys for success. Are we using our resources (human, physical, financial) in a way that drives the most benefit?
- Compare our strengths and weaknesses to the competitive market.
- Based on our strengths and weaknesses, what opportunities exist in the market for us to prosper?
- What threats exist in the market that we must be aware of and respond to in order to succeed?
- During this activity, students will examine a business and its environment using a common business tool called a S.W.O.T. Analysis.
- In examining businesses using a S.W.O.T. Analysis, we will look at factors both external and internal to the business.
- We will use a S.W.O.T. Analysis as a method of helping to define a business’ competitive advantage in the market, potential opportunities in the market to create value and potential threats that might interfere with the business’s ability to succeed in the market.
Social and Emotional Skills
- In this activity, students will practice the core competency “Self-Awareness” however, slightly different than they might have practiced this competency before. They will practice elements like “evaluating self-perceptions” and “recognizing strengths” but from an organizational self-analysis vs. an individual’s while considering the Strengths and Weakness components of the analysis. During the debrief, students will contemplate how an organization’s “Self-Awareness” can impact their opportunities and threats much like the same can happen when looking introspectively to themselves.
- In this activity, students will utilize their SWOT and determine what is necessary for their business to achieve success. Based on the SWOT, students will consider “Responsible Decision Making” elements such as “identify any problems,” “analyzing their situations” and “reflecting” on what the SWOT has revealed for the business they studied. Students may consider and compare what decisions they would make as a leader of the business knowing what they determined in their SWOT analysis and then compare to decisions that the true owner of the company has made in recent years for the business. By practicing this skill, students are engaging in “evaluation.”
- Determine how you will share the activity with your students.
- Review the S.W.O.T. Analysis activity guide.
- Prepare the materials listed.
- Gather names/logos of a variety of businesses and determine how you will virtually share them with students, such as through a PowerPoint slide.
- Decide how you are going to group students and successfully virtually collaborate.
- Review the debrief questions shared in this guide and decide how you would like to share any of those as reflection questions.
- Protip: Consider adding to the instructions any parameters around student writing (grammar mechanics, number of sentences, etc.).
- Post the activity to your classroom platform for students to access and complete.
(NOTE: These directions are written for a collaborative session with students virtually – if not collaborating as a class virtually, you can post pieces of the directions online with the resources listed above.)
Part 1 – 45 minutes
- Have each pair of students draw a S.W.O.T. Analysis template on a sheet of paper.
- Walk students through each of the four blocks of the S.W.O.T. template, as the teacher models an example of an existing business. Share the S.W.O.T visual with your students to ensure they understand each component.
- Protip: You may wish to address Foundational Values while walking students through the example business via discussion or completing one as an example. Are Foundational Values a strength or weakness of the existing business? What opportunities are there to add value to the market through Foundational Values?
- Select a business to have all groups examine. This step will be a check for understanding to ensure that students understand how to conduct a S.W.O.T. Analysis.
- Using breakout rooms, allow 10 minutes for students to discuss and complete a S.W.O.T. Analysis for the business.
- Bring students back together to facilitate a class discussion so students can knowledge share their group’s point-of-view of how they saw the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Part 2 – 45 minutes
- Split students into teams of 3 or 4.
- Have each team select a different business.
- Teams will draw a S.W.O.T. template or use a program such as Word or Excel to create one.
- Tell teams they will have 15-20 minutes to share knowledge amongst their team members, conduct web-based research, and complete a S.W.O.T. Analysis of their business.
- When time is up, teams will have 3 minutes to prepare their team’s 90-second “S.W.O.T. pitch” for the class.
- Have each team give their “S.W.O.T. pitch” to the class, while other teams listen and consider which teams’ pitches created the most value by sharing the best presentation of knowledge of the S.W.O.T. Analysis for their business.
- While students listen to pitches, they can “invest” in the one that added the most value by commenting, liking, voting, etc. in the chat. Students may not invest in their own team’s pitch.
- Incentivize whichever team received the greatest investment (i.e. votes).
Optional: A way to extend this activity would be by asking students to complete the “SWOT Analysis – Supplemental: For The Profit”. This asks students to watch an episode of “The Profit” and complete the S.W.O.T. Analysis for the business featured. Recommended episodes of The Profit for having students practice S.W.O.T. Analysis are: Artistic Stitch, Season 2, Episode 10, and Shuler’s BBQ, Season 2, Episode 15.
Students can complete the debrief on paper by answering the following questions, utilize groups via Zoom, or discussion boards to discuss their learnings.
- What is the connection between knowledge and conducting a S.W.O.T. Analysis?
- How might humility play a role in the effectiveness of a company’s creation of its S.W.O.T. Analysis?
- What is the connection between sound judgment and conducting a S.W.O.T. Analysis?
- What is the connection between opportunity and conducting a S.W.O.T. Analysis?
- Do you believe knowledge, sound judgment, and opportunity are key to conducting and implementing a S.W.O.T. Analysis for a business? Explain.
- Do you believe conducting a S.W.O.T. Analysis can be of value to a business owner or its employees? Explain.
- What does the company do better than competitors? Overall industry?
- Are any of the strengths proprietary? Scalable?
- As a result of the S.W.O.T. Analysis, what opportunities for improvement are there for the company?
- Can any of the companies’ weaknesses be turned into a strength or an opportunity? How?
- What situations (threats) should the company avoid? How might the company be proactive in lowering or removing some of the risks of the threats?
- How can the company change? What should the company do next?
- What are your recommendations based on the S.W.O.T. Analysis conducted?
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