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Thinking about SWOT analysis by Dr Stephen Fox

In my review of

Thinking about SWOT analysis

by Dr Stephen Fox posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book Three Stars, meaning it is Worthwhile.

Here is my book review.

Quite a technical review of SWOT

This is a longer than I expected review of using SWOT in strategy analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

It’s quite a visual book so if you’re reading the Kindle version, you’ll probably have to zoom in on the diagrams to be able to see the details.

Opportunities and threats relate to the external environment and the book distinguishes between macro issues as captured by PEST analysis and the micro external environment of customers, competitors and suppliers. I’m not so keen on this distinction myself. Ultimately everything important in PEST relates back to the business, the customers, competitors and/or suppliers.

On the internal perspective, the strengths and weaknesses of the business, the author summarises the resources and capabilities available and needed.

After giving complicated guidance on how to prepare a Swot analysis, the book then goes into a case study to show how the analysis can be used.

This is fairly well done and shows how the various quadrants can be combined to identify and think through strategic options. I did feel that too much reliance was made on the diagrams communicating important issues. I’d have liked to have seen these explained more fully in the text with the diagrams used to summarise the key points.

Swot analysis can be glib in practice, thrown together quickly, almost as a form filling exercise. This is a waste of a valuable thinking process and the book encourages you to a) validate and b) dig deeper to create proper understanding of the entries.

I read for an audience of small business owners and I thought this was written using technical language that will put some off the book.

Using paragraphs would be nice too as it will be read on a screen.

The book also refers to several other books by the author so if you’re new to strategy, you’ll find it a frustrating read.

I’m left feeling conflicted about the book. I’ve seen some experts say that Swot analysis is outdated. This author is an enthusiast and I agree. However the book is a bit dull and the people who should be reading it, will find it a hard read.


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