Meet John Doe: Let’s build a strategic plan together, part 1 — SWOT analysis

By Paul Gorski

Given my poke at local government officials in last week’s “Meet John Doe: Local leaders didn’t know aviation, aerospace were big locally until 2006,” Sept. 25-Oct. 1 issue (, I thought I’d open up a discussion regarding local government’s role in economic development.

Last week, I expressed in a roundabout way my concern that local leaders do not do enough strategic planning. We should have been focusing on recruiting aerospace-related companies for decades, not just the past few years. A basic strategic planning technique, a SWOT analysis, done routinely would have helped local leaders stay focused on what is important to our local economy.

A SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis forces an organization to list that organization’s positive and negatives in its marketplace. Once you’ve identified these key elements, build a strategic plan to build on the strengths, jump on opportunities, and address threats and weaknesses.

Do you think our current strategic plan is working? Do you know what our plan is? Well, we’re going to outline a plan, right here. But we’ll need that SWOT analysis first. We may find we don’t have the tools to promote economic development or that lack of economic development is not a current threat. Not likely.

Let’s get started; post below or send me at your own SWOT analysis for Winnebago County. List our strengths, weaknesses, threats (to our success) and opportunities for success. You don’t have to rank these in any level of importance, just submit them as they come to you.

To do a fair analysis, you should list entries for each of the four categories. You’ll find sample SWOT analyses here:

I really want public input, so forward this article to friends and family, business leaders, even local politicians. This is a critical thinking process, not a process to criticize. I promise not to poke fun at or demean any of the suggestions.

That’s it. “Meet John Doe” is about community education and community building. Let’s see what we can do together.

Paul Gorski ( is a Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper.

From the Oct. 2-8, 2013, issue

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