In the last blog, I challenged the usefulness of a SWOT analysis. However, there are some really useful tools that can be alternatives to a SWOT analysis. These ideas are really designed for organizations to create more insightful, responsive strategies by surfacing interdependencies between people and organizations, discovering patterns and trends in the environment, and including community voices in the process. Here are some of my favorite alternatives to a SWOT analysis.

  1. Stakeholder discussion groups/conversations

Suffice it to say, that engaging an organization’s stakeholders in a strategic planning process is crucial to gather clarity about what are viable options for strategies to be implemented. I will be writing a separate blog about stakeholder discussion groups because it is so important. However,  it is important to do this at a later phase in the planning process than we traditionally think about it. We recommend that organizations do this after they have identified key outcomes that are part of their theory of change and then ask stakeholders how best to achieve these outcomes. 

  1. Systems Mapping

All human service organizations trying to meet the needs of people are part of a larger system. It might be the homeless services system, the foster care system, the senior services system or child care system. We encourage organizations to figure out their role in the system and their unique value add they bring to solving a complex community problem. It helps provide clarity about the role their organization plays in solving the problem and shapes the mission and goals of the organization. An example of one of our systems maps can be found on our YouTube Channel. 

  1. Capacity Analysis 

A capacity analysis helps a nonprofit evaluate its abilities to carry out its mission and plan for the future. We start with considering the skills and abilities of the executive director, board members, and other key leaders in developing and communicating vision and strategy, fostering partnerships, making sound decisions, and inspiring staff. Asking the organization key questions about the resources, such as staffing levels and expertise, budget size and sources of funding, technologies, and facilities is a second step in the process. Finally, assessing the organization’s financial procedures, human resources policies, client tracking methods, and service delivery procedures will help prioritize the next 3-5 years.