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:


Let’s take another look at the whole process.

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?


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!