Performing a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a common business tool used by individuals to develop their careers and businesses to build market share. The site www.mindtools.com contains tools on how to use the SWOT analysis. Why not apply the principles of SWOT to genealogy research to kick start your goal setting for the new year?
Strengths : What do you do well? What unique resources can you draw on? What do others see as your strengths?
Weaknesses : What could you improve? Where do you have fewer resources than others? What are others likely to see as weaknesses?
Opportunities : What good opportunities are open to you? What trends could you take advantage of? How can you turn your strengths into opportunities?
Threats : What trends could harm you? What is your competition doing? What threats do your weaknesses expose you to?
A thoughtful examination of each of these categories will help you to determine your research goals and provide opportunities for improvement. For example, my genealogical SWOT would include the following details.
Strengths: Good communication skills, social networking abilities and problem-solving skills. Can draw upon educational experiences to focus on problems. Others see my tenacity and natural curiosity.
Weaknesses: Research documentation in primary always needs improvement. Have fewer monetary resources than others due to age and financial circumstances at this period of life. Others might see lack of certification credentials as a weakness.
Opportunities: Good opportunities are available to pursue online training and certification in the genealogy field. Close proximity to major repository (Allen County Public Library-Ft. Wayne, IN) and memberships online to Ancestry.com and Footnote.com can provide additional sources for research. Can take advantage of trends in genealogical research such as DNA testing to add value to family history knowledge. Can cultivate my communication skills into opportunities to draw upon the greater genealogical community to help solve "brickwalls" in my research.
Threats: Trends that could harm include over-reliance on online sources, which could cause me to overlook vital information in off-site repositories. The competition (fellow researchers) are blogging, tweeting and utilizing social media to improve knowledge base. My weaknesses expose me to the threats of incorrect conclusions based on limited evidence.
Using these SWOT principals, I can plan on ways to improve my researching skills, including pursuing educational opportunities, society memberships, etc.