To make the most informed decisions you must consider every possibility, utilise every strength, seize every opportunity and avoid any potential threats. Sounds like a lot of hard work, right? Making important decisions can be an easy, enjoyable process if you create a SWOT Analysis using a Mind Map. In this article, we will show you how Mind Mapping can enable you to complete an effective SWOT Analysis, using Apple as an example.
First – what is a SWOT Analysis? It is a popular planning tool used by individuals and businesses to review information before making a decision. This technique determines the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved when generating ideas and making decisions for starting a new business venture or project. Its purpose is to help you develop a strong business strategy by making sure you’ve considered all of your internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the external opportunities and threats you may face.
The findings of this analysis can then be used to capitalise on strengths and weaknesses, exploit emerging opportunities and reduce the impact of threats.
A traditional SWOT Analysis lists your business’s greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in a grid-like format as shown below:
The grid method is simple and useful but out-dated; it stifles creative thinking due to its rigid structure and limited space.
In comparison, the free-form Mind Map method is terrific for this analysis. Mind Mapping software, such as iMindMap, allows you to explore your ideas on an unlimited workspace and capture a wealth of information in a much more usable form. The structure of a Mind Map allows your brain to easily spot gaps and draw connections between apparently unrelated information. It is very likely that you will discover new information as you progress. Don’t fret, digital Mind Mapping software makes it easy to add in any extra details and handy examples whenever you like.
So how can Mind Mapping save you time and effort when carrying out a SWOT Analysis?
Get started by inserting the central image that represents your new business idea or project. Our brains respond better to visual stimuli, so this will focus your attention on your idea, and help your brain make associations.
Begin brainstorming ideas to populate your first main branch – it’s good to start on a positive note with your idea/project’s strengths. This section encourages you to ponder positively about your business, so proudly praise your assets here. Think about its strongest capabilities, resources, competitive advantages, location, quality, reputation and business alliances. Try asking yourself:
The radiating structure of a Mind Map will help your brain to digest all of the issues, ideas and information and bring them into clear focus. Mind Mapping gives your brain a pre-structured framework for association, ensuring that you give attention to all of the relevant elements. Use lots of colours and images in your Mind Map, particularly when you are analysing the strengths of your idea. Colours and images encourage an emotional response to the decision and will help highlight the major points of comparison between your unique selling points and your competition.
Mind Maps clearly reflect the internal decision making process, helping you to focus on the most important information. Analyse the weaknesses of your project, focusing on the reality of things. Negatives can be turned into opportunities and potential new revenue channels. So try to be honest with yourself, focus on the facts and ask yourself key questions such as:
Now think about how you can turn your weaknesses into opportunities and how you can manipulate your strengths even further to tease out potential opportunities. The informal nature of a Mind Map will help you to achieve this. You want to grasp every opportunity, so avoid out-dated grid methods that stifle creative thinking. Mind Mapping releases you from pre-determined thoughts, by encouraging playfulness, creativity and innovation. This enables you to look at your opportunities from an alternative perspective and as a result produce creative ideas. To determine your key opportunities, ask questions such as:
Common examples of threats include: new competitive products, distribution channels, developing markets (such as technology), limited revenue and restrictive regulations. Mind Maps give you an overview of all of your ideas at once. Being able to see the bigger picture is extremely useful to uncover threats that could easily go undetected using the traditional SWOT grid method. Ask yourself questions along the lines of:
Now you should take some time to digest all of the insightful information you have discovered, draw accurate conclusions and make the most informed decision possible. Choose Mind Mapping as an easy, effective and enjoyable way to assess your current knowledge base.