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Incorporating the TOWS Analysis
As stated above, the SWOT analysis focuses primarily on the internal business. A variation of SWOT, known as TOWS uses the same factors as the SWOT analysis, but take a primarily environmental look at external opportunities and threats. These threats and opportunities are then assessed against the internal strengths and weaknesses. Each risk factor may, in some way, increase or decrease an identified strength or weakness of the firm.
Putting It all Together
Incorporating external threats and opportunities (identified by the PESTEL Approach) into the SWOT analysis yields a comprehensive model for employing the TOWS framework. Below is a matrix to use to compare the external threats and opportunities against the internal strengths and weaknesses.
TOWS Strategic Alternatives Matrix
This helps you identify strategic alternatives that address the following additional questions:
- Strengths and Opportunities (SO) – How can you use your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities?
- Strengths and Threats (ST) – How can you take advantage of your strengths to avoid real and potential threats?
- Weaknesses and Opportunities (WO) – How can you use your opportunities to overcome the weaknesses you are experiencing?
- Weaknesses and Threats (WT) – How can you minimize your weaknesses and avoid threats?