What is the difference between TOWS and SWOT matrices?

TOWS: Step Beyond A SWOT Analysis

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Last week we considered the benefits and use of the SWOT Matrix that mapped out Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Today, we’re going to look at the TOWS Matrix. You can use the information that emerges from this matrix to develop options for addressing issues that were revealed through SWOT.

In case you didn’t immediately see it, TOWS stands for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Strengths. To show how the SWOT and TOWS matrices complement each other, I’ve included both below.

Consider Possible Strategies

The left column of the TOWS chart identifies possible strategies you can leverage to take advantage of opportunities and avert threats identified in SWOT. For example, if your organization is particularly strong in its development processes, you should consider how you could use this strength to make the most of newly opened opportunities.

Strategic Options

The right column in the TOWS matrix reveals strategic options your team can take to neutralize threats and maximize your opportunities. For example, if you can seize a growth opportunity by utilizing your product line, you may offset a weakness in a declining market.

Your product team has a full set of options for addressing threats and opportunities.  The ones you pursue first should make the most of your strengths and reduce weaknesses.

Four Things A Good TOWS Analysis Has

  1. A full view of your external environment, major factors that impact your business, and projected threats and opportunities.
  2. A realistic assessment of your internal strengths and weakness in relation to the threats and opportunities identified.
  3. Strategy options that leverage strengths and diminish weaknesses for each identified threat and opportunity.
  4. A prioritized roll-up of the strategy options into initiatives. These will drive project selection going forward.

When all this has been done, you need to be prepared to defend what you’ve developed. Be aware that some people may be not align to your thoughts and plans. You can back up your plans by gathering relevant data and customer quotes to ensure you are on the right course and prepared to address any concerns.

Looking Ahead

Next week, we’ll consider the development of the Product Concept.

 

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