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What Fiorina and Trump can learn from SWOT

Rob Enderle | Aug. 31, 2015
A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis can help your company face its greatest challenges and achieve success. Columnist Rob Enderle demonstrates how to use the SWOT framework by applying it to the two Republican presidential candidates.

Trump SWOT

Strengths: Also very good at thinking of his feet, he has created an impressive business power base largely leveraging financial resources belonging to others. Expert at gaming systems, he has taken to social media like a fish to water and tops all other candidates in new media management. A scary good negotiator with a powerful rolodex, he is likely one of the most powerful people in the world already.

Weaknesses: Quick to anger and often speaking and texting before thinking, which makes him his own worst enemy. Doesn’t seem to be able to take direction from anyone, including close advisors with any regularity. Has an inferiority complex particularly when it comes to women causing him to overreact and exhibit obsessive behavior.

Opportunities: Seen as someone who is outside the political norm he could pull from a broad cross section of voters who are upset with the status quo. Positioned properly his successes in negotiations and gaming systems would make him a strong player both nationally and internationally and his media skills would help ensure support from the electorate for actually fixing things like the VA, which has gone unfixed despite bipartisan support for decades.

Threats: Trump is very tactical and can lose track of the strategic goal. His obsession with those who challenge him, particularly women, can make him look unacceptable for public office. His image is his greatest asset and yet he often sacrifices it to ineffectively attack those that aren’t real or lasting personal threats. In the end, Trump’s biggest threat is Trump.  

The power of SWOT

One of the interesting things about using SWOT for something like this is that it shows a potential for partnership. Trump could learn a lot from Fiorina’s preparation and her aggressive protection of her personal brand. Fiorina could learn from Trump how to more effectively use social media. She could also learn from his stronger negotiation and gaming-the-system skills.

Both candidates are currently long shots for the job of U.S. President but they could improve their odds significantly by learning from each other and focusing more on fixing their weaknesses and threats, their strengths are likely already impressive enough.

However, one of the things I’ve noticed about wealthy people is that they often refuse to see their weaknesses let fix them, which often speaks to why they fail, when they fail, in elections against people with fewer resources who are less skilled.

In the end, SWOT is a great way to work on fixing what needs to be fixed or to anticipate where a competitor or partner is likely to fail. Regardless of how you use it, SWOT is a powerful exercise that isn’t particularly hard to learn and can become an invaluable long-term skill if you take the time to learn it. Something to noodle on over the weekend.


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