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Developing effective strategies using SWOT analysis

In order to succeed, strategies for Sustainability need to be informed by their context, aware of internal and external factors, able to adapt with these in mind, and conscious of the consequences of change.

SWOT analysis is a technique that we can use to assess the pros and cons of a strategy or plan. (SWOT stands for ‘Strengths, ‘Weaknesses’, ‘Opportunities’ and ‘Threats’). The SWOT categories allow us to balance positive and negative factors in both the internal and external context.

Have a go at applying the principles of a SWOT analysis to an organisation with a sustainability strategy. This could be your own employer or school, or any organisation that you are interested in. For example:

  • Hospitals or health trusts
  • Local government
  • Charities
  • Multinational corporations
  • Educational institutions

Having located a sustainability strategy, use the guidance below to produce a SWOT analysis. We’ve included a SWOT template + a couple of worked examples. The purpose of the SWOT analysis is for you to:

  • Examine an organisation’s sustainability strategy in detail
  • Apply your knowledge and understanding to assess the strengths and weaknesses of this strategy
  • Identify missed opportunities within the strategy
  • Highlight best practice and information that could be usefully transferred to other contexts.

Share the results of your analysis in the comments below. Don’t forget to include the name of the organisation and a link to the Sustainability strategy or Sustainability policy if online.

Think about: how useful is SWOT analysis for assessing the effectiveness of Sustainability strategies? Does your perception of your chosen organisation match to what you read in their published documents?

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This article is from the free online course:

Sustainability, Society and You

The University of Nottingham