Should We Invite Outsiders to Our Next Company SWOT Analysis?
By Jim Kahrs
When conducting a SWOT analysis, it can be a good idea to bring in people from outside your dealership. This can include key suppliers, customers and/or advisors. The one caution I would add is to be mindful of what can come up in the process. To be truly effective, a SWOT analysis needs to allow for the free exchange of ideas and will most certainly lead to disclosure and discussion of items that might not be appropriate for vendors or customers.
This may come up in any area, but is most common when dealing with weaknesses. You’ll need to have a very strong relationship with any outside people who you invite to participate. This relationship should be strong enough that you will not be concerned about “airing your dirty laundry” in front of them. Should you choose to include anyone who is not a current employee you need to have them sign a nondisclosure agreement before the meeting starts. This agreement is a legal document that prevents them from sharing what they’ve learned with anyone else and should also prevent them from using the information learned against you at any time in the future.
You may have the SWOT Analysis run by a third-party resource, which does tend to work better than SWOTs run by the owner. Your session will be more formal when it’s lead by an outside facilitator. I’ve often seen very good SWOT sessions run by someone like a CPA, or business advisor. You can even have the owner of another company come in and run the session. It’s not an absolute necessity though. You simply need to have the ability to keep the meeting on track and focused, and create an environment where people know they are free to share their thoughts. In short, whoever you choose to run your SWOT Analysis, it is critical that they have the ability to command attention and control a group.