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The Innovation Process
Activity 1.1 B

Assess strengths and weaknesses

There are two potential exercises included in this activity to help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation as a whole, and in particular parts of your organisation.

‘SWOT’ enables you to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at the organisational level. Process mapping allows you to look at a particular part of what your organisation does, in order to understand weaknesses and potential areas for improvement.

Things to consider

  • If you are carrying this out at the national level in a country which is disaster prone, the SWOT will look very different for your organisation depending on where you are in the disaster management cycle. For example, you may have significant funding (strength) in the response phase, but have limited skilled staff (weakness), whereas in the reconstruction phase, you may see funding sources starting to dry up, which is a threat.
  • For the Process Mapping exercise, ensure that you have representatives of all your users, and wherever possible include members of the crisis-affected population.
  • If you are working with both staff members and affected communities, be aware of the power dynamics and how they might influence opinions that are voiced.

SWOT Analysis


The SWOT analysis tool (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is a tried and tested tool you can use to examine your team, organisation, or even the entire sector.

According to Nesta’s DIY Toolkit, “this analysis leads to a richer understanding of what the project or organisation can offer, the key weaknesses that need to be worked upon in order to succeed, and where to bring in external partners for assistance.” It is therefore a good framework for evaluating strategies, and to feed into reflections on initial impressions of a problem.

Download and print out the template (as large as possible), or draw it onto a flipchart, and use sticky notes to map out the internal and external factors that are helping or hindering you in achieving your goals.

Work in a group to ensure that a range of perspectives can feed into the overall picture, and make sure that you are drawing as much as possible from the latest facts and figures (not just opinions!) to ensure an objective analysis.

Process Mapping


When thinking about innovation, most people imagine disruptive ideas aiming to radically change humanitarian action. In reality, such innovations are extremely rare; the best way to make significant gains might be by making a series of small improvements (Harrell, 2015).

One of the most powerful tools to achieving this type of change is process mapping. Process mapping will enable you to identify areas of weakness in your organisation’s operations, and to develop solutions that can create these incremental (and sometimes large) gains.

According to the FIS, “process mapping helps represent work processes visually and identify problem areas and opportunities for process improvement. It provides a common understanding of the entire process and specific roles and contributions of process participants.”

Download the FIS Best Practice Guide for Process Mapping below and familiarise yourself with the contents. Bring together a group of people working in and around a particular process, such as those who carry out the process, those who supervise the process, and those who are affected by it, and work through the exercise as a team.