What is it? SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and offers a structured process for a group or community to explore their current situation. There are several variations on the process. In one version, community or neighborhood groups gather information from a small, but representative, group of local residents and leaders. Process leaders ask the targeted participants, via phone, web-based, or in-person interviews for their community perceptions, in four separate areas. The first two areas are internal: the strengths and weaknesses from within the community. The second two categories are external: the opportunities and threats from outside the community. For example, an external threat may be the national economy, or decreased federal funding that affects local schools. When all the factors are combined, the group begins to form a clearer picture of the current situation.
How has it been used? In 2009, officials in the Cross Creek neighborhood, in Plano, Texas, were interested in learning more about the chief concerns of community members. In order to discover resident perceptions, leaders conducted a SWOT analysis. The study identified strengths that included access to parks, low crime rates and excellent services. Responses indicated that a major weakness concerned inadequate property upkeep and maintenance by homeowners. Ideas such as a rental inspection program or electronic recycling program were identified as opportunities. Lastly, speed, water use restrictions and coyotes were noted as threats to the community. Following this analysis, the neighborhood was able to identify home maintenance as the chief concern and start a program to help rectify this situation. (Source: Cross Creek Neighborhood – Plano, Texas)