Blog spotlight: Performing a SWOT analysis

Nurse Leader Insider, October 17, 2011

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One of the most important, although sometimes time-consuming, activities that are frequently completed in financial planning sessions is the Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) analysis. This analysis can be useful in many problem-solving situations that you may face. The SWOT exercise may seem very time-consuming; however, this planning will again help direct where resources are needed and to what extend the resources should be allocated.

As a nurse leader, sometimes you may be part of the group being asked to identify SWOT. This selection usually occurs if your director or vice president is conducting the session and you are a group member. In working with just your area of responsibility, you might be the leader guiding your direct reports through this exercise. In both cases it is important to understand the SWOT analysis to gain the full benefit.

Strengths are what the organization, division, or department identifies that they do well and have success in above the competition. When identifying strengths for your organization ask yourself: "What would the community say that we are best at providing?" The answer to this question will help you get started with your list. Maybe it's your strong orthopedic program and the total joint camp that you've developed. Maybe it's the great oncology doctors that you've been able to recruit. This list should include both internal and external views. Here are some other examples of possible strengths:

  • Strong name recognition of the organization
  • Stable workforce
  • Strong succession planning
  • New facilities
  • Private patient rooms
  • Strong financial position
  • High-quality care delivered

Weaknesses, of course, will be just the opposite. The weakness assessment should openly and honestly describe what the organization currently does not do well or is seen as a weakness to achieving the desired goals for the organization. Weaknesses are identified by asking the question: "What currently causes us trouble in providing the exceptional patient experience that we strive to provide?"

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