The results of a SWOT analysis are used to generate plans that capitalise on the strengths and weaknesses, exploit emerging opportunities and reduce the impact of threats.
The Mind Map is a particularly useful tool to review this structured analysis because it can capture lots of information in a single space and allow you to see the connections between facts and information.
Start by creating a Mind Map, either using a pen and paper, or Mind Mapping software, such as iMindMap, to create your SWOT analysis. Insert a central image that represents your idea or project and create 4 main branches radiating from your central idea. The radiating structure of a Mind Map will enable you to explore the details of the SWOT analysis so you can instantly draw accurate conclusions. Additionally, you can organise and consolidate large volumes of information, generate ideas and put plans into action.
“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” – Charles Darwin
Begin your SWOT analysis by looking at the strengths of your idea. Radiating from this main branch should be your ideas/projects’ resources, capabilities, reputation, differentiation, customer service, efficiency, competitive advantages, location, quality and business alliances. This section in the SWOT analysis encourages you to think positively about your idea.
Mind Maps allow your brain to digest a range of complex information, bringing all issues and ideas into clear focus. They give your brain a pre-structured framework for association, ensuring that all the relevant elements are taken into consideration. Try to use lots of colours and images in your Mind Maps, particularly when you are analysing the strengths of your idea, as this will encourage an emotional response to the decision and will help highlight the major points of comparison between your unique selling points and your competition.
“Our strength grows out of our weaknesses.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mind Maps clearly reflect the internal decision making process, enabling you to focus on the relevant information. So when you are analysing the weaknesses of your idea, focus on the reality of things. Negatives can be turned into opportunities and potential new revenue channels. So try to be honest with yourself, focus on the facts and ask yourself some key questions such as:
• What can I do better?
• What are my competitors’ unique selling points?
• Where do I receive the most complaints?
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
The informal nature of a Mind Map helps to encourage playfulness, creativity and innovation, which means you are not restricted by predetermined thoughts. This enables you to look at your opportunities from an alternative perspective, and as a result produce creative ideas. Look at your weaknesses and assess how you can turn them into opportunities. Alternatively, analyse your strengths and see how you can manipulate them even further to tease out potential opportunities.
“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” – Steve Jobs
Examples of threats include business alliances, new competitive products, distribution channels, developing markets such as technology, limited revenue and restrictive regulations. Mind Maps encourage you to view these threats from different angles and perspectives. You should also consider your opportunities as they may unveil different threats. For example, new market segments could be dominated by competitors, such as Google Glasses, undermining Apple’s iWatch position on the market.
Using the SWOT analysis and Mind Mapping, you can easily assess your current knowledge base to successfully generate new ideas, make decisions or start new business ventures.