26th Annual Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education Meeting

Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Bull Schaefer, R.A., Zavala, M.

Deconstructing the SWOT Analysis: Teaching Students the Process of Strategic Analysis as Introspection

Business schools continue to teach students how to conduct a SWOT analysis before making a strategic choice. SWOT is one tool professors teach to identify internal strengths and weaknesses of a firm (what does the firm to especially well and what does it not do well) while also recognizing external opportunities and threats to the firm’s current operations. Typically, teachers choose a business for students to analyze and suggest future strategic directions. In this CJBE session, two professors will demonstrate alterative ways to teach the SWOT process that allows students to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses before acknowledging the external environment. In the first class (Marketing), after students practice the typical organizational focus, they then conduct a Personal SWOT analysis. The reflective exercise is presented as a method to help students to prepare for a job interview, discern what to do after college, when to declare a major, before a performance review, etc. In another core class (Management), after students conduct a SWOT of the university, the students then must then use the process to make decisions on how to survive as a group that has just crash landed in the Arctic (using a classic wilderness survival scenario exercise). These introspective class exercises allow students to use the SWOT tool in non-intuitive ways, which helps to learn the process and provide the benefit of practicing self-reflection, evaluation, and discernment. At CJBE, the two professors will demonstrate how they each teach SWOT and lead the various exercises. They will discuss common outcomes and student reactions. The session could last 30 minutes or 1 hour. We prefer a longer session so participants can actually engage with the exercises as the students do.