SWOT Analysis

One of the tools that may be used to define the current state of a process is SWOT analysis.  Our Black Belt students are required to perform a SWOT analysis as part of their Black Belt project.

SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the organization.  Threats and opportunities are external to the organization, in the environment that surrounds the organization.  During the course of an improvement project we should work to exploit strengths and opportunities, correct weaknesses, and defend against threats.

Here is an example of a SWOT analysis that was submitted recently by one of my Black Belt students.  The organization is part of the Federal government in the United States.


  1. Strong support for Six Sigma projects from the Facility Director.
  2. Dedicated Systems Redesign Coordinator who is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt.
  3. Dedicated Six Sigma Master Black Belt to provide support and training as needed.
  4. Several Six Sigma Green Belts available to assist as required.
  5. Supportive culture for change and innovation.


  1. Strong employee union hampers innovation and change, often simply opposing management without any logical rationale.
  2. Lower level employees tend to be opposed to change and often file union grievances whenever changes are made to working conditions.


  1. New top leaders were recently installed as a result of political fallout over organization performance.
  2. New leaders were empowered by Congress to remove ineffective senior managers.


  1. Pay levels as set by Congress are lower than the private sector, making it more difficult to attract talented individuals.
  2. Budget cuts make it necessary to operate with limited resources.

Your comments or questions about this article are welcome, as are suggestions for future articles.  Feel free to contact me by email at roger@keyperformance.com.

About the author:  Mr. Roger C. Ellis is an industrial engineer by training and profession.  He is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 50 years of business experience in a wide range of fields.  Mr. Ellis develops and instructs Six Sigma professional certification courses for Key Performance LLC.   For a more detailed biography, please refer to www.keyperformance.com.