A SWOT analysis can help you out when you have to do some decision makings. With this technique you will assess the situation by judging it on four aspects: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (hence the name SWOT for every first letter of the aspects).
The usefulness of SWOT analysis is not limited to profit-seeking organizations. SWOT analysis may be used in any decision making situation when a desired end-state (objective) has been defined. Examples include: non-profit organizations, governmental units, and individuals. SWOT analysis may also be used in pre-crisis planning and preventive crisis management. SWOT analysis may also be used in creating a recommendation during a viability study.
The SWOT also offers a good forum for opening up discussion. I’ve seen a SWOT discussion bring up problems that needed upper-management attention but might otherwise have remained hidden. Middle managers don’t always like telling upper managers what’s wrong. Even in a healthy company culture, that can be awkward. SWOT analysis makes that easier.
Of course you have to manage a SWOT meeting well. Like any other meeting subject, SWOT can degenerate into useless discussion. A SWOT meeting should focus on the SWOT agenda and avoid unrelated side discussions. It should invite contributions without reprisals for negative comments. It’s a variation on brainstorming, so contributions – as in suggested bullet points, suggested items on the list – are all positive as long as they are well intentioned.