The SWOT is a commonly used strategic analysis tool that allows to have an effective vision of the strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats on the subject that we’re working on.
SWOT is the acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
The SWOT in the Agile World
The SWOT in the Agile world can be used in two very interesting different contexts:
- tool for a retrospective session
- tool to analyze a product
Let’s go in-depth about those two different contexts.
In retrospective session
As you probably know, the retrospective is a very important meeting in agile and mainly in Scrum. Knowing that you have to change the content of this ceremony in each session, you can use the SWOT for one session.
It is often interesting to see with the development team what they would define as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the sprint that ends or the latest sprints.
We can quote some simplet examples:
- strength: good atmosphere in the team, interesting projects
- weakness: disruptions that slow down projects (bug, tma).
- threat: there are more and more disturbances, no unit tests
- opportunity: do unit tests, add code review
The SWOT allows development teams to analyze together the sprint context. in outcomes, the Scrum Master can often identify the areas for improvement ; he will work on them.
At the end of the session, it is often interesting to propose to the developers to find together the main areas of improvement that they would like to apply. This whole process allows to have a consistent team with a common vision.
When the major areas of improvement are defined, it will be important to display them on the wall in the team office ; the team shouldn’t forget about it. The interest of this ceremony is really to improve the context.
In session of product improvement
The SWOT can also be very effective in improving the products. If the company has the size of a startup, it is easily feasible to gather all employees around a board or a large table to work on a SWOT.
The effectiveness of this exercise is reel because the marketing department and the customer service will not have the same vision of the customer. The marketing department have a relative distance with the customers while the customer service has them regularly on the phone.
All these peoples can have a common vision thanks to SWOT ; they can discover unknown problems. They will be stronger together by doing this practice.
When we have a lot of people, we have to select a portion of them because there may be too many people to do a SWOT.
At the end of the session, there can be an interest to make a report. We will send it to all participants in order to share to everyone the ideas written on the SWOT.
The SWOT matrix
Here is an example of of the SWOT matrix:
as you can see, there are 4 themes on this matrix. it’s very playful to represent it like that on a wall or a table. We propose to people to use stickies to complete it.
Each person could put a sticky in the swot box of his choice. he writes on the subject he wants. for example, if I find that “the product is antiquated”. I will write that on the sticky and put it on the weakness area or threats area.
If many people are attending the session, there will probably be a lot of stickies on the board.
When all the stickies are set, it is often interesting to rate each sticky note in team; you can use this interesting rating: from 1 for the least important to 10 for the very important. However the facilitator will have to be careful because this type of exercise can quickly drag on.
Conclusion agile SWOT
It’s is an excellent tool for the agile world; you can really use it for the continuous improvement. Do not hesitate to invite the team to do a SWOT trying in a fun way.