SWOT Analysis: A new look and Top questions

Appmothers blog: SWOT

Opportunities and threats in SWOT ANALYSIS Template

Here is the template for SWOT Analysis that I use. Do you use a template? Or have you discovered a SWOT Analysis template that you can share with us and our readers? How to find out Opportunities and Threats in SWOT?

How to find out Opportunities and Threats-  These were the top questions I asked: What opportunities to learn are open to me now Or in the near future? Are these new skills or improvements or deepening of skills? Can I learn or gain new knowledge through self study or reading or watching videos or tutorials? Are there experts or contacts that I can leverage for knowledge-sharing or experience sharing? Are there failures or short comings that I can fill the gap ? Are there complaints or feedback that I can find solutions to? Is there an unfulfilled or unexpressed need around me? What top questions come to my mind?

Mindtools recommends asking:

For Opportunities in SWOT Analysis:

  • What good opportunities can you spot?
  • What interesting trends are you aware of?

Useful opportunities can come from such things as:

  • Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scale.
  • Changes in government policy related to your field.
  • Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and so on.
  • Local events.

Critical Thinking: First remove bias

Appmothers blog: bias

Bias in understanding and decision-making

Before we can use our critical thinking skills, it is important to remove barriers to thinking clearly. Our biases cloud our understanding, analyzing and decision-making more than we can imagine. In fact, Wikipedia lists more than 100 psychological beliefs and biases. It also lists 27 sociological biases or barriers in understanding and decision-making. In fact, it will not be unfair to say that bias is the opposite of common-sense clear thinking.
So, in the first step of getting information or data, we tend to select data or information, saying- “this is not significant”, “that’s biased”, “this will not work in our company”
That is why we remove biases before forming our questions or setting the decision making context. Lets look at some very common biases:
1. Confirmation Bias or Cognitive bias
Confirmation bias happens when we gloss over or even actively look for information that supports our existing beliefs, and reject information that go against what we believe. This may be a result of our subconscious thoughts, rather than intentional bias. That’s why these are called ‘blind spots’. It can lead to missed opportunities and poor decision making. This can lead you to make biased decisions, because we don’t factor in all of the relevant information.
I feel susciptable to Confirmation bias while making career-related decisions as well as networking decisions. How often we feel pressured to make a decision by persuasive or powerful colleagues or mentors or role models. I even feel rebellious and find information that don’t support advice given by colleagues whom I am not so comfortable with. Can you think of such instances in your experience?
According to Mindtools, a 2013 study found that confirmation bias can affect the way that people view statistics. Its authors report that people have a tendency to infer information from statistics that supports their existing beliefs, even when the data support an opposing view. That makes confirmation bias a potentially serious problem to overcome when you need to make a statistics-based decision.

To Avoid Confirmation Bias
We can look for ways to challenge what we think you see by taking on the role of ‘Devil’s Advocate’ ourselves. We can purposefully, seek out information from a variety of sources, and use techniques like,  Six Thinking Hats   to consider situations from multiple perspectives. We can also deliberately seek out people and information sources that challenge our opinions, or assign someone on our team to play ‘devil’s advocate’ for major decisions.
I have made it a regular practice to consult my Reality Check- a few people who think very differently from me- fortunately, at home itself. It is a good practice to identify a diverse groups or individuals, and name them as our reality check, regularly seeking out to their dissenting views. This will become comfortable when it becomes a habit.

2. Anchoring or “first impression” bias
That is a tendency to jump to conclusions – or to base your final judgment on information gained early on in the decision-making process. On any number of occasions, once we form an initial picture of a situation, it’s hard to see other possibilities. I have some regret stories myself; and have deliberately learned to go through a Ladder of Inference.

To Avoid First Impression Bias
I never lose sight of my decision-making history, and have a cryptic poster on my computer, of my lessons learnt when I have rushed to judgment in the past. Mindtools’ Ladder of Inference  is a model I use to force the stages of thinking that I need to go through to make good decisions. This takes some practice, and later becomes a habit. I may take a little more time, but it ensures a thorough, well-considered decision. No regrets later. if I feel pressure to make a quick decision. (If someone is pressing aggressively for a decision, I tell myself that probably, what they’re pushing me for is, against my best interests.)

3. Overconfidence Bias: Another similar barrier to good understanding is Overconfidence Bias.  Researchers found that entrepreneurs are more likely to display the overconfidence bias than the general population. They can fail to spot the limits to their knowledge, so they perceive less risk. Some succeed in their ventures, but many do not.

To Avoid Overconfidence Bias
We Write down answers to the following questions before making a Pros and Cons Table:
⦁ What sources of information do I tend to rely on when I made the following Table? Are these fact-based, or on hunches?
⦁ Who else is involved in gathering information?
⦁ Has information been gathered systematically?

Bottom-line: Write down in charts, ladders, checklists or a notebook, the facts and feelings which you took into account while understanding or making a major decision. Never repeat some of these biases and faulty thinking.

More on Improving Critical Thinking in the next few posts…

Body Language: remove barriers

More on body language:

Several body parts can be seen as barriers or discouragers of comunication. Time and again, we are told that crossing our hands over our chest says clearly- we are not interested in listening or we are not interested in engaging with you.

The thumb rule is to take away anything that blocks your view or looks like a barrier between us and the rest of the team. Even during a coffee break, one can be aware that we may create a barrier by holding our cup or glass in such a way that seems deliberately, to block our body or create a distance from others.

A senior executive is quoted a saying that he could evaluate his team’s comfort by how high they held their coffee cups. He observed that the more insecure a team-member or a new-comer felt, the higher they held their coffee.

People with their hands held at waist level were supposed to be more comfortable than those with hands chest high. I take most of these myths with a pinch of salt. What do you think? Any experiences to share?


Touch is a more powerful tool.

A study on handshakes by the Income Center for Trade Shows showed that people are two times more likely to remember us, if we shake hands with them. They also found that people react to those with whom they shake hands by being more open and friendly. They explain it as follows: Touch is the most primitive and powerful nonverbal cue. Touching someone on the arm, hand, or shoulder for as little as 1/40 of a second creates a human bond.


Smile is another powerful body tool to build rapport and enable friendly co-operative behavior When you smile at someone, they almost always smile in return. And, because facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings, the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state in a positive way.


Mirroring or taking similar expressions or postures as the other person builds rapport and liking. When we mirror other people with intent, it can be an important part of building rapport and nurturing feelings of mutuality. Mirroring starts by observing a person’s facial and body gestures and then subtly letting your body take on similar expressions and postures. Doing so will make the other person feel understood and accepted.


Have you noticed, when somebody lowers his voice, speaking with clear, even pitch, one pays attention. To sound authoritative, keep your voice down. This tip comes from a Speech Therapist. He advised that before a speech or an important call, he lets his voice relax into its optimal pitch by keeping his lips together and making the sounds “um hum, um hum, um hum.”

We females, have to watch out for our voice not to rise at the ends of sentences- this may indicate a question or seeking approval. He says, “when stating your opinion, use the authoritative arc, in which your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and drops back down at the end.” Excellent advice, I think. More on voice language for collaborative work in the forthcoming posts.

Don’t miss the following the History Channel documentary on body language:

Its OK: be comfortable talking about difficult topics.

TIP: Become a child and look at the situation simply.

-TRY TO WRITE – Direct ways to communicate are better.
-People appreciate hearing the truth. Don’t you?
-Recognize that there is no need to embellish or distort.
-Resolve to be comfortable talking about difficult topics.

-less is more: use the simplest descriptions. More on this topic coming up…

Building rapport before working together

As Tony Robbins says: RAPPORT IS POWER

In any work or relationship or home situation, the thumb rule is to PUT PEOPLE FIRST. ALWAYS RESPECT the people on the team. Watch the videos in the right column. They express my opinions better visually. Do let me know whether you agree or not.

Next we talk about listening effectively.

Listening is not agreeing

We cannot work together, if we do not listen to each other. That is not to say that we have to appease our obstinate child; or whining subordinate; or unreasonable customer. Actively listen; so that the other person responds and feels comfortable for the conversation. There is no feeling that it is a one-sided situations. If the other person is on the defensive….then no real communication can take place. There would be no compliance, there would be no improvement, there would be no teamwork. Period.

There has to be a perception of a level playing field. For that:

This is important – Tell The Other Person That You Really Heard
-Acknowledge what others are saying. Mirror or Rephrase what the other person said.
Say that I see your point. Validate others’ positions before promoting your own.
-Concentrate on listening without jumping to your views. If it is totally unreasonable, don’t interrupt; write down the exact words which the other person is saying.

YOU CAN VALIDATE THE POSITION  of others without agreeing with them.

-Separate high standards of conversation from disapproval and judgment. Don’t yet place yourself in a position of judgement.

YOU STILL ARE NOT AGREEING, just listening; clearing the barriers of communication.

Try this …and let me know what you feel

Interpersonal Communication Quiz

Outcome of communication

Communication:Begin with the end in mind

As a trainer, self-awareness about ourselves; and each person in the audience can be the ideal. I cannot overemphasize the importance of building a rapport in the classroom ; or in any interpersonal context. For those who want to improve their communications, lets get down to the basics and check again to see that we don’t miss the following.

In my Communications trainings, I also  use this quiz to understand current communication styles and concerns: (a few questions in each post; with Best Answers and Tips in the next post):



Interpersonal skills: an overview

Interpersonal communication skills

Interpersonal communication skills

There are plenty of Models for Interpersonal Communication, which have value. I personally like to use the above model (refined through experience), where one decides how to communicate with colleagues, friends, family, children; based on the desired outcome.

If we want to motivate a child or team-member, there are several steps we can use before we deliver the message itself. There are other persuasive elements we can use to motivate a recent acquaintance to say, part with the phone number of his colleague. The idea is not to manipulate, but to truly engage him and his colleague in a win-win opportunity. Isn’t that how collaborative projects begin?

On the other hand, if we want to clarify study or work instructions, a feedback and clarification loop will be a better communication strategy. Listening skills have to improve too. Have you been in a situation where things got messed up because you thought the instruction was pretty simple; but not to the other person?

I surely have had several occasions like that. So I have learnt this communication model the hard way!

Quiz for you Multiple Intelligences- Take the test

personality quiz

Discover your multiple intelligences

Another way to look at developing yourself, and growing is Multiple Intelligences. Each one of us has multiple strengths:

  • Verbal/Linguistic
    People with Linguistic intelligence are naturally good with writing or speaking and memorization.
  • Logical/Mathematical
    People with Logical intelligence are driven by logic and reasoning.
  • Visual/Spatial
    People with Visual intelligence are good at remembering images and are aware of surroundings.
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic
    People with Kinesthetic intelligence love movement, have good motor skills and are aware of their bodies.
  • Musical
    People with musical intelligence are musically gifted and have a “good ear” for rhythm and composition.
  • Intrapersonal
    People with intrapersonal intelligence are adept at looking inward.
  • Interpersonal
    People with Interpersonal intelligence are good with people and thrive in social interactions.
  • Naturalist
    People with Naturalist intelligence have a sensitivity to and appreciation for nature.

Read the rest of this entry

Webinars – Small Business Development Center – University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Webinars – Small Business Development Center – University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Liked this resource: Thinking Mathematically : nrich.maths.org

Thinking Mathematically : nrich.maths.org.

Trying out math lessons on AAAMath.com


Idea 176: Beat the Calculator Maths Starter Game

Big Blog of Teaching Ideas


This can either be a general revision activity for all mental maths, or tailored to focus on just one mental maths strategy (using number bonds, rounding numbers etc). It works well played firstly as a class so that everybody understands the rules, then can be played in groups of 3 or 4.

Child 1 reads out the maths problem they have been given, preferably something short such as ‘what is 7+8?’. The answer is underneath the question, so Child 1 will definitely know the right answer when they hear it.

Child 2 must use a calculator to find the answer.

Child 3 must use mental methods only to find the answer.

The race is on to see who can find the answer fastest! Child 1 can be the judge as to who gets to the answer first.

Option: If Child 3 wins, they explain to the group the mental strategy…

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Idea 177: Maths Estimation Starter Activity

Big Blog of Teaching Ideas


I find that sometimes when teaching systems of measurement, they are introduced without sufficient linking to the real world. So for example, children might know that 10mm = 1cm and 100cm = 1m, but they don’t have any idea of the lengths of normal everyday objects. That’s where this activity comes in, with the example below being for length (you could easily do weight or volume).

Ask the children to estimate the length of your bag (or whatever you prefer). Have the children estimate individually and record their answers briefly on whiteboards or scrap paper. Discuss and compare estimates; did any child think to look at a ruler on their table, then think that your bag is longer than the ruler and so must be longer than 15cm? Does any child already have a comparison in their mind that they used as a reference point? Has a majority of the…

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Happy Mother’s Day

4 Mothers

We can’t think of a better way to send you off to the weekend than with this clip from Maya Angelou on love and mothers.  From 4 Mothers to you, have a very happy Mother’s Day.

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May 8th

Cooking Up Some Knowledge


-Negative Numbers have been a real challenge all year. We are finally in our unit focusing on them. This week I have seen the light bulb go off for several students!

-It was also great to see the students enthusiasm for survivor challenge coming up in two weeks.

-Teach appreciation was made special by so many students and their thoughtful parents. Thank you for helping make this week so special.

Next Week

Math- wrap up unit 7

Reading- End of Year Reading Assessment (Dibels), continue researching for our inquiry projects, skills- Fact and Opinion/Predict and Set Purpose

Writing- Finish character Essays and begin study of poetry

S.S.- begin famous speeches

Science- Life science cont.

Spelling- Unit 6 The Hindenburg (ex. clean, cleanse, inspire, inspiration, legal, legality…)

Upcoming Dates

Next week is a Coin War Spirit Week.

May 14 – Celebration of the Arts – 5:30 – 7:00 (dinner) –…

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How tall am I?

Solve My Maths

I recently asked this question of my Year 7 class. We were working on measurement and I thought it’d be a fairly easy introduction to the world of units of measurement.

“20 metres!”

“no, no no. 7 metres?”

Yikes. Clearly my students hadn’t really grasped the visualisation of units before this point. They seemed OK with telling me how many this were in that, and even which units to use for different distances. But actually picturing a metre? Not so great.

So I gave them a starting point : the height of a door is just over 2 metres.

“Do i have to stoop to get through the door?”

Nobody really noticed, so I went through the door again.

“ooooh, OK, 2 metres”

“Did my head nearly touch the top of the door frame?”

“not really”


“maybe a bit less than 2 metres”

Close enough. I’m 1.88m tall. This…

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Solve My Maths

SqueakTime.com is a great website full of tough problems for students.


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#mathsTLP 10th May 2015

Solve My Maths

Welcome back.I’m very pleased to announce that Sage Education are offering a book prize giveaway this week!


Enter the draw at the bottom of the post.

Here’s four starters to begin with:

shape starter

algebra starter

data starter

number starter

starters 10 may

Lesson 1: Averages

Lesson 2:Histograms

Lesson 3:Maths Department CPD

Lesson 4: Standard Form

Lesson 5: Pythagoras

Lesson 6: Calculator Skills

Lesson 7: Core 2 Revision

Lesson 8: Starting Calculus

Lesson 9: Changing the Subject (Algebra)

Lesson 10: Inequalities and Shading Regions

Lesson 11: Circle Theorems

Lesson 12: FDP

Lesson 13: Fraction Operations

Book Giveaway:

To enter the exclusive #mathsTLP competition for a free copy of “Teaching Mathematics Visually and Actively” courtesy of Sage Education, click here and complete a super short survey (Survey Monkey)

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