SWOT analysis is an analytical tool to study our strengths and weaknesses so that we may exploit the emerging opportunities while at the same time avoid or minimize the threats that we may encounter.
Surprisingly, very little we apply SWOT analysis in many other areas such as storytelling and understanding of human behavior. This post is an attempt to fill this void with real-life examples.
One source of a threat that is not always easy-to-see is the weakness embedded in our strengths. I give examples to explain what I mean.
Humans including leaders and managers have their strengths and weaknesses. The strength of a person could be her/his weakness. For example, a very tolerant leader may make followers neglectful for they know that no matter what mistakes they make the leader shall tolerate them.
Same with leaders who take the initiative at all times. These leaders lead followers to become neglectful and dependent on the leader to take the initiative. The strength of the leader injected the weaknesses of the followers, which is in fact a weakness to the leader for weakening the team.
A watchful leader realizes that going beyond the limit is in fact a weakness no matter how strong she/he thinks she/he is.
A company that focuses on improving its saleable product might neglect warning signs that a new technology is emerging that could make its product obsolete.
Humans are indifferent. Their strength could be the source for their risks. This realization saves humans lots of trouble in life and may seek proper assistance to save help them cover up for their weaknesses.
SWOT Analysis in Storytelling
We know the importance of storytelling in our lives. SWOT analysis may help us write great stories.
One good example is the old Arabic story of a blind man who became friendly with a one-legged man. One day the two friends were on their way to an invitation for a wedding dinner. They walked together with the one-legged man leading the way for the blind. Suddenly, they ran into a river where the wedding dinner was on the other side of the river. The blind man could not see and the one-legged man could not walk. Therefore, what they did was the blind man could swim and carried the one-legged man on his back. The one-legged man helped the blind man avoid rocks and fallen objects in the river. Marrying the strength and weaknesses is a way to write a great story.
The above story is similar to the more modern story of the hare and tortoise with the tortoise carrying the rabbit to cross a river for the rabbit could not swim.
A third story is the one that became an Egyptian movie titled “Nothing Is Important”. A new CEO arrives for a company. The CEO was excessively controlling. One employee realized the CEO’s weakness resulting from his excessive tendency to control. It is like holding sand in your hand. Hold the sand firmly and it will slip away between your fingers. Hold the sand slowly and it shall remain in your hand.
One opportunist employee knew that something was slipping from the CEO. He searched for more info about the CEO and found out that he was excessively fond of a particular soccer team. The employee found his opportunity.
Excessive love no matter what generates weaknesses. The employee found his opportunity in utilizing the weakness of the CEO. He joined the club because he knew the CEO used to spend much of his free time exercising and socializing at the club’s premises. The employee surprised the CEO one day by jogging in the club while the CEO was doing the same. They shook hands and then had dinner together. The CEO trusted the employee again excessively so that the employee influenced the CEO to do as the employee advised him to do. Informally, the employee ran the business.
Understanding human behavior by conducting a SWOT analysis is a great way to write great stories. There are many other potential areas for SWOT analysis. We may discover them if we ponder on their possibilities.