Approaches to Strategic Planning

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SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths

  • Weaknesses

  • Opportunities

  • Threats

These four dimensions can be applied to any aspect of an organisation's structure or activity, and the assessments can and should come from various parts of the organisation. This breadth of perspective is the key to a rigorous and creative analysis.

For example, clients have differing perspectives from those of paid staff, who in turn will have different perspectives from volunteer Trustees, or volunteers who are helping to deliver services. Effective strategic planning needs to be informed by all these varied experiences and views, and evidence collection will be seen to be objective and inclusive if everyone is involved.

Organisations could also consider using a facilitator who is not involved directly with the organisation to provide a more objective view. This needn't be an expensive solution - organisations can offer reciprocal help, and there may also be local infrastructure organisations who will provide external facilitation.

Other information on the use of SWOT analysis and assessment tools include:




A well known approach to organisational development is Peters and Waterman's 7-S-Model, which is described in the following link.


This model considers that organisations are challenged by balancing Strategy, Structures, Systems (the 'hard' S's) with Style, Skills, Staff and Shared values (the 'soft' S's)

This approach can be a useful and thought provoking analytical tool which could be a basis for discussions about the relative effectiveness/levels of satisfaction etc of different parts of the organisation.

A tool which can help to focus on product or service development options is the Ansoff matrix (Ansoff 1988). This looks at current Market penetration and current and new Market and Product development, leading to ideas for diversification.

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