career Library Leadership

SWOT Analysis


S.W.O.T. Analysis in business is an important road map to keep an organization on track to achieve goals. What about nonprofits, like libraries, how do you create a simple S.W.O.T. analysis to help plan? Read on for a framework and effective ideas to get you started.

S.W.O.T. Analysis Provide Gaps

The first step in any project or plan is determining the gaps in where you need to go versus where you are now. Simply stated, performing a gap or S.W.O.T. analysis will help determine the course of your plan. Questions to ask your leadership team are:

  1. What are long term goals needed to achieve?
  2. How will the organization get to the results?
  3. What are the strengths of the organization?
  4. What are the threats to achieving those goals?

Furthermore, these simple questions, asked of your senior managers, stakeholders, and community partners will set the stage for the next step. Interviews and focus groups also help facilitate healthy conversation and generate new ideas from many areas.

Analyze the Feedback

Take the data from your analysis and mine for common themes. Data, along with the feedback from those involved in the plan will form the framework. Having a few key stakeholders or small committee that can enact the plan, should be the data miners.

In addition, these folks know the limitations of the organization and the resources available. Gain political support, if resources are tight. This helps you determine a draft plan to help with potential initiatives and outcomes.  However, no idea is out of the question, so get creative using the feedback.

Write it Down

When the direction of the analysis is determined, then mangers need to decide on objectives and strategies to create a map for the results. Sometimes this looks like a laundry list of items to check off.

And other times, the plan is inspirational and carries work culture themes, morale and development goals. The beauty of a SWOT analysis is that no one, is the same. You determine the course along with your stakeholders.

I’ve worked for libraries and businesses with 32-page plans and others with 2 pages of step-by step-needs. There is no perfect length or format.

Create Deadlines

Finally, the results need to have a timeline. Even inspirational plans will have objectives to meet the goal of increasing morale. For example, by December 2022 the team will have published and approved a “Culture Code” of respectful behaviors for our customers and colleagues. However, defined deadlines and goals are more likely to be achieved if people are held accountable.

Finally, it’s up to you as a leader to determine what needs to happen and what will work for your organization. Start the year off right and start formulating a strategic plan  from your SWOT analysis for your work group. Look for the next published article for more details on an effective library strategic plan.

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