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SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used in many areas, from business management to personal development. It helps to systematically identify and evaluate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This analysis serves as a foundation for effective decision-making and is essential, especially in dynamic and competitive environments. The aim of this article is to deepen the understanding of SWOT analysis and to provide concrete application examples and tips.

Origin and development of the SWOT-Analysis

SWOT analysis did not just come out of nowhere, but has gone through an interesting history and evolution that is worth exploring. By understanding its origins and changes over time, we can better understand why this tool is so popular and widely used today.

Origins of the SWOT-Analysis

SWOT analysis has its roots in the 1960s and was originally developed at Stanford University. Albert Humphrey, a management consultant and professor, conducted a research project comparing the business practices of successful and less successful companies. The results of this project led to the development of SWOT analysis as a systematic tool for strategic planning and decision-making.

Developments and Updates

Since its introduction, SWOT analysis has undergone numerous changes and adaptations. While the basic elements - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats - have remained largely constant, the way in which these factors are analyzed and interpreted has undergone a number of refinements. With the advent of new technologies and increasing globalization, the application areas of SWOT analysis have also grown. It is now used not only in the business world, but also in other areas such as the non-profit sector, public administration, and even personal life planning.

SWOT analysis has thus had a rich history and dynamic development, which underlines its adaptability and relevance in the rapidly changing modern world. It remains a proven tool for planning and decision-making, continuously updated and adapted to the needs of the time.

The four elements of the SWOT-Analysis

At its core, a SWOT analysis revolves around four main elements: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Knowing and understanding these four aspects is critical to effective strategic planning and decision-making. In this section, we look at each of these elements individually to understand how they are captured and analyzed in a SWOT analysis.


Strengths are the internal positive characteristics of a company or organization that enable it to achieve its goals. These can be, for example, special expertise, a motivated team or even a strong brand image. These factors give a company a competitive advantage and should be taken into account when developing strategies.


Weaknesses are the internal limitations or deficiencies that can stand in the way of a company. These could be inefficient processes, lack of expertise or outdated technology. It is important to identify these weaknesses and develop measures to address them.


Opportunities are external factors that could provide a company with advantages, but first have to be exploited. These could be new markets, social trends or technological innovations. By identifying and seizing opportunities, a company can increase its growth and success.


Risks are external factors that could harm a company. These include economic downturns, increasing competition or legal restrictions. Risks cannot always be controlled, but identifying them enables preventive measures to be taken and better decisions to be made.

The combination of these four elements forms the basis of SWOT analysis and provides a structured framework within which companies or organizations can evaluate their current position and develop future strategies.

How to perform a SWOT-Analysis?

A SWOT analysis may seem simple at first glance, but thorough execution requires careful planning and analysis. Below, we provide a step-by-step guide as well as some examples and templates that can facilitate the process.

Step by step Instructions

  1. Clarify Objectives: Before starting the SWOT analysis, you should determine clear objectives. What do you want to achieve? Is it a corporate strategy, a marketing campaign or personal development?
  2. Research and Data Collection: Gather information that can contribute to the analysis. This may include market research data, feedback from customers, or personal experience.
  3. Form a Team: The team should be made up of all relevant stakeholders: If the SWOT analysis is conducted in a team, all relevant stakeholders should be involved to bring in different perspectives.
  4. Perform Analysis:
    • Strengths: What are the advantages? What do you do particularly well?
    • Weaknesses: Where are the deficits? What could be improved?
    • Opportunities: What opportunities might be available? Are there trends or changes that could be exploited?
    • Threats: What obstacles might arise? Are there external factors that pose a risk?
  5. Prioritization: Prioritize and evaluate the identified factors to highlight the most important issues.
  6. Develop Strategies: Based on the SWOT analysis, strategies can now be developed. How can the strengths be exploited, the weaknesses minimized, the opportunities seized, and the risks avoided or mitigated?
  7. Implementation and Monitoring: Implement the strategies developed and regularly review whether adjustments are necessary.

Example: The SWOT-Analysis for the choice of study program


Let's assume you are faced with the decision of which course of study to choose after graduating from high school or college. You have three options in mind: computer science, psychology and business studies. To make an informed decision, you want to perform a SWOT analysis on the degree programs.

Solution Path:

  1. Research: Inform yourself in detail about all three degree programs. Read program descriptions, look at job prospects, and talk to students or graduates to get a realistic impression.
  2. Make Lists: Make a list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the three degree programs. These can be objective factors (e.g. average salary after graduation, job market) as well as subjective factors (e.g. personal interest, existing knowledge).
  3. Evaluation: Weigh the individual points against each other. Which strengths are particularly important to you? Which weaknesses could you tolerate or remedy? Which opportunities do you want to take advantage of, and which risks are too great for you?
  4. Decision: Based on your SWOT analysis, make an informed decision.

SWOT-Analysis for the choice of the study program

With this extended SWOT analysis you can compare the three study programs computer science, psychology and business studies even more comprehensively. Each study program has its own strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Computer Science Psychology Business Studies (Business Administration)
Strengths - High job opportunities - Good income after graduation - Broad field of application - Opportunity to work independently - Diverse fields of application - High job opportunities
Weaknesses - High requirements in mathematics - Highly competitive job market - Need for further training (master's degree/psychotherapy training) - Uncertain job market situation - Great competition - Broad but often superficial knowledge required
Opportunities - Rapid technological developments constantly offer new fields of work - Possibility for remote work - Rising importance of mental health increases demand - Opportunity for specialization (e.g., industrial psychology, clinical psychology) - Opportunities for further training and specialization - Internationality and globalization as an opportunity
Threats - Automation of certain IT jobs - High stress levels - High competitive pressure - Limited places for further training - Economic fluctuations can affect job opportunities - Rapid changes in business and technology require continuous training

Areas of application of the SWOT-Analysis

The SWOT analysis is a versatile tool that is applied in various contexts. Depending on the objective and situation, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats identified can be weighted and interpreted differently. Here are some of the most common areas of application:

Corporate Strategy

  • Why it's important: In business strategy, SWOT analysis is used to evaluate a company's position in the market. It helps to set clear goals and develop actionable plans for the future.
  • How it is applied: This is where you analyze both internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats) to develop a strategic plan. The analysis can focus on the entire company or specific business areas.


  • Why it's important: In marketing, SWOT analysis enables marketing strategies to be better planned and executed. It can help to better exploit market potentials or identify new markets.
  • How it is applied: SWOT analysis in marketing often focuses on the company's market position, product portfolio or specific marketing campaigns. It helps to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing strategies and to adjust them if necessary.

Persönliche Entwicklung

  • Why it's important: A SWOT analysis can be useful not only in companies, but also in personal life. It enables structured self-reflection and can serve as a basis for personal development plans.
  • How it is applied: Here, one identifies personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and risks arising from one's own living environment. Based on this, one can plan concrete steps for further development and goal achievement.

SWOT-Analysis in the context of other analysis tools

SWOT analysis is a powerful tool for self-assessment and external assessment in different contexts. But it is not the only analysis tool out there. There are several other methods that are often used in conjunction with SWOT analysis to provide a more comprehensive picture of the situation. Two of these are PESTEL-Analysis and MOST-Analysis.


MOST analysis is an internal analysis tool that evaluates the internal factors of Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics of a company or project. It is particularly useful for strategic planning and is often used as part of a larger business case or strategy.

How they complement each other:

The MOST analysis helps to better define the "strengths" and "weaknesses" in the SWOT analysis. One could use the MOST analysis to develop a precise strategy based on the findings of the SWOT analysis.

The choice between SWOT, PESTEL and MOST or the combination of these tools depends on the specific situation and the goals to be achieved. By combining multiple analysis methods, one can gain a more comprehensive and deeper insight into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

FAQ about SWOT-Analysis

SWOT analysis is a versatile tool, but there are some questions and uncertainties that often arise. In this section, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about SWOT analysis.

How objective is a SWOT-Analysis?

The objectivity of a SWOT analysis depends heavily on the people who conduct it. Since it is a subjective assessment, personal biases and experiences can influence the results. It is therefore advisable to conduct the SWOT analysis in a diverse team and, if possible, to bring in external experts to ensure a balanced perspective.

Can SWOT-Analysis be used for all sizes of companies?

Yes, SWOT analysis is a flexible tool that can be useful for companies of all sizes and in all industries. Whether it's a startup, a midsize company, or a large corporation, the basic principles remain the same. However, the analysis can vary in complexity and depth depending on how many resources are available for it.

What software tools are available to assist?

There are a number of software tools that can facilitate the creation and interpretation of a SWOT analysis. These include:

  • Mind mapping tools like MindMeister or XMind
  • Project management software with SWOT analysis features like Asana or Trello
  • Specialized SWOT analysis software like SWOT Simple or Sisense

Choosing the right tool depends on several factors, including the size of the team, the scope of the analysis, and the specific requirements of the project.

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