What I did not mention in the SWOT article is that I always try to find an equal number of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Specifically, I try to have a minimum of three points each, but no more than five. While it obviously is not a total disaster if you find one or two more strengths than weaknesses, I still try to equalize. It’s just the way I prefer it, and it makes certain things easier.
Even though the number of statements can vary, I recommend that you do not go totally crazy. Besides being an ineffective way of working, you’ll end up with a large number of possible strategies, which is not what you necessarily want.
Anyway, let’s move on.
First of all, there are many ways to fill in the matrix. I will not go through all of them, but I will touch on one particular method and then I’ll explain the method that I prefer.
Some marketers (even very experienced ones) use plus and minus signs to fill in the matrix, and I do not recommend this method. They will, for instance, rate Strength 1 against Opportunity 1 and give it either plus or minus signs. Obviously, the more plus signs the better. So their matrix may look something like this:
|O 1||O 2|
|S 1||+ + +||– – –|
|S 3||+||– –|
|W 1||– –||+|
The problem with this method is that people tend to give their weaknesses and threats minus signs, because they represent something that is not so good for the organisation. If this is the case, then you’ll end up focussing on strategic options that might not be best at all. In other words, weaknesses weighed against threats could also produce very useful results.
I (and many others) prefer using numbers. Given that the total number of strengths and weaknesses can vary, you cannot just stick to one system. For example, my SWOT shows three statements each. If that is the case, I’ll give the best option three points, the second best option two points and the third one point. The remaining ones get zero point. So my matrix might end up looking like this:
|O 1||O 2||O 3||T 1||T 2||T 3|
But in reality, my matrix will never end up looking like this, because I will not be the only one assigning points to each combination. And unless you’re a super marketing genius, I don’t recommend that you fill in this matrix by yourself; you should always consider the opinion of others. I usually work in a project group, so when we get to the confrontation matrix, we’ll just all give our opinions and assign points to the combinations and at the end we’ll count the scores. Our attentions goes out to which ever scores best. For example, in a group of four, each column will always have 24 point in total; the toal points per row can vary:
|O 1||O 2||O 3||T 1||T 2||T 3|
I just did this randomly, but here is my point; according to the former matrix, we should pay attention to O 1 – W 2. However, the latter tells us that we should focus on O 1 – S 3. This is the result of involving more people in the process. As I mentioned, I usually work in a group, but if you are not in that situation you can simply ask some of the employees of the organisation (which you are writing the plan for) to help you out. Which is actually something that I wish I would’ve done more often, simply because they know the organisation very well.
In this example, there are six scores of 10 and above, which leaves us with six options (though you could also choose to not count the 10’s). Usually, you’ll want to see 3 -5 options come out of your matrix. If you get more than five options you should probably go back to you internal and external analysis, and seriously consider doing it all over again. Very rarely will you get more than five options that can lead to something good.
Presumably, you know that the actual matrix goes into the enclosure. So in the chapter of the confrontation matrix, you’ll simple describe the options that you’ve found to be useful.
When you’ve done all of this, you can move on to yet another matrix, which is the strategic options matrix in the Strategic Options chapter.
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