The SWOT analysis is primarily used as a descriptive tool to analyse the company in its environment. If you want to develop specific strategic approaches or programmes, you can use the TOWS matrix. The TOWS matrix is derived from the results of the SWOT analysis and serves to derive meaningful strategic approaches from the internal and external factors previously worked out.
First, a matrix is built in which the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are mapped at the edge. Four inner fields are created with the respective factor combinations, such as strengths and opportunities (S/O strategies). Based on the strengths, approaches are systematically developed in this field to exploit the identified opportunities. This is how you work your way through the four inner fields:
- S/O Strategies use one or more own strengths (S) to exploit certain external opportunities (O) in the environment.
- S/T Strategies use one or more own strengths (S) to avert or avoid risks (T) from the environment.
- W/O Strategies eliminate own weaknesses (W) in order to make better use of worthwile opportunities (O) in the environment.
- W/T Strategies protect own weaknesses (W) from the risks (T) of the external environment.
When developing new approaches, it is important to focus on the prioritised factors from the SWOT analysis. Although no factor should be forgotten, the focus should nevertheless be on the factors that have the greatest influence on the success of the company or project.
TOWS Matrix in Practice
While SWOT analysis is one of the most frequently used tools, the TOWS matrix is extremely rare. The TOWS matrix enables a simple and structured procedure for the development of recommendations for action. This means that if the task is to develop future-oriented strategic solutions or programmes, they should always be developed after the SWOT analysis. It is important to know that the quality of the results is directly correlated to the previous SWOT analysis. So it is important to work with care.