SWOT - TOWS Matrix - What are the differences? Who developed TOWS Matrix?


Jim Biz

I don’t know a lot about it - or "specifically who developed" it – but have seen web pages explaining its use - most of which have a governmental tie-in. Form what I gather:

Both/each are planning tools & the real difference is what outcome is desired.

Ask yourself --- SELF --- which information is most necessary for me address while planning.
Am I looking to control a threat – or build upon a strength - & how does the information interact.

  • Strength
  • Weakness
  • Opportunity
  • Threats

  • Threats
  • Opportunities
  • Weaknesses
  • Strengths



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I recieved this today:

On 9/23/01 3:19 PM, Weihrich, Prof. wrote:

Someone in your Forum asked who developed the TOWS Matrix and how it relates to the SWOT analysis. While I was teaching Business Policy, I noted the limitation of the SWOT analysis because students did not take the next step in developing alternative strategies based on the internal strengths and weaknesses and the external opportunities and threats. Consequently, I developed the TOWS Matrix. The original article "The TOWS Matrix--A Tool for Situational Analysis" was published in LONG RANGE PLANNING, Vol. 15, No. 2, 1982, pp. 54-66. This model has been used for research and strategy formulation around the globe. In the meantime, I applied the concept to career strategy as well as for analyzing the competitive advantages of nations. More information can be found on my website shown below. I trust that I shed some light at the origin and further development of the TOWS Matrix concept.

Heinz Weihrich, Ph.D. (UCLA)
Dr. H.C San Martin University, Peru
Professor of Global Management and Behavioral Science
School of Business and Management
University of San Francisco

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1045, USA
Home Telephone and FAX. 925-930-6548,


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Does anyone have any contemporary information / experience with SWOT - TOWS?


Quite Involved in Discussions
During my bachelor's program in business management, we utilized the SWOTT method. We added the extra T for trends. I recently finished my degree program so I believe that the SWOTT is the current method, or at least the most commonly used/recognized. I have never personally heard of TOWS, although it sounds just as plausable as a SWOTT analysis.


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Almost everybody can do a SWOT analysis. How well it is done or analysed is debatable. However, many stopped after doing the analysis - perhaps they are not sure on how to proceed from thereon. The TOWS matrix is useful for it provides a framework for using the information analized.

Its one of those simple but useful tool that can be used in whatever situations provided you have a good grasp of it. Another example of such a tool is the good old 'BCG' matrix.

Rod Davies

I had until today believed that I had originated the TOWS model in 1999 during the development of the EU ADAPT Change Facilitator Programme. However my objectives were to establish an effective workshop / thought facilitation tool to identify the drivers and responses to change. This is a different objective than for Prof. Weihrich.
IMO the strength of the TOWS approach is that it is far more naturalistic than SWOT, and therefore obtains better results. We primarily respond to threats rather than opportunities, and it is generally only a threat to the status quo that compels us to change. In addition few people are sufficiently self-possessed to identify their strengths at the outset, but they tend to be very aware of their weaknesses. I have found that by stating the negative Threat and Weakness, people then start to see their own Opportunities and Strengths.
The other great strenght of TOWS over SWOT as a facilitation tool is that each phase ends on a positive which means that people feel more empowered when they leave the session.
If anyone is interested in how I have applied TOWS as a facilitation tool I am more than happy to provide information.


During my MBA days, I like it so much that I had extended the TOWS with Analytical Hierarchy Process, which allows priortization of each action.

The software allows allotment of responsibility, weighted against cost, etc.:agree1::) and do some kind of profiling of the current strategy (almost like IE Matrix). Strategist can then filter the top 80% of actions based on contribution or Costs and probability of Success.


A SWOT analysis is really an inventory of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. I always think of the TOWS matrix as the SWOT turned inside-out. The TOWS matrix Looks at the interactions between the 4 SWOT elements. How do your Strenghts and Weaknesses play into how you address your Opportunities and Threats? TOWS is a tool to translate SWOT into a practical strategy to manage the internal realities (SW) toward the external environment (OT).

As you go through this process, don't waste your Strengths on controlling your Threats. Always try to focus your Strength on your Opportunities while mitigating your Threats. You'll never win a totally defensive game.

Hope this helps,


Quite Involved in Discussions
I have seen in several places in my country people assigning SCORES for each of the crossings.

You cross each STRENGHT and WEAKNESS to each OPPORTUNITY and THREAT. The questions asked for the crossings are the known "Will the strenght X leverage opportunity Y", "Will Weakness X allow the increase of a threat", etc

And assign an impact score 0, 1 or 2 for each crossing.

You get a partial for each quadrant (like STRENGHT X has a total of Z score in opportunities, but STRENGHT Y has a total score of Z+12 in opportunities, so if we search for opportunities we should go for that Strenght)

But you also get a total for each S/W/O/T... so... OPPORTUNITY X gets Y score in our strenghts and our small score in our weaknesses... so we should invest in that Opportunity as our strenghts will reinforce it and our weaknesses won´t be a big impediment...


That said, I searched Google for this kind of quantitative SWOT analysis but found none, when looking in english.
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