The items listed above may be organized in a hierarchy of means and ends and numbered like this: Top Rank Objective, Second Rank Objective, Third Rank Objective, et cetera. From any level, the objective in a lower level answers to the question "How?" and the objective in a higher level responds to the question "Why?" The exemption is the Top Rank Objective: there is no reply to the "Why?" question.
Once the goal has been identified, SWOTs are revealed and listed. SWOTs are:
- Strengths: characteristics of the organization those are useful to attain the objective.
- Weaknesses: characteristics of the organization those are destructive to achieving the goal.
- Opportunities: external circumstances those are supportive to realize the objective.
- Threats: external circumstances those are destructive to achieving the goals.
Accurate identification of SWOTs is vital because following steps in the process of analyzing the objective mainly derived from these SWOTs. Foremost, the managers have to agree on whether the goal is within reach, given the SWOTs. If the objective is not achievable a different strategy must be chosen and the procedure repeated.
If, in contrast, the goal seems to be achievable, the SWOTs are used as starting point to the creation of possible strategies, by asking and responding the following four questions:
How can we utilize each Strength?
How can we prevent each Weakness?
How can we make use of each Opportunity?
How can we protect us against each Threat?
In an ideal world a cross-functional group or a task force that stands for a wide range of perspectives should perform the SWOT analysis.