There is a common phenomena that individuals as well as organizations tend to do when getting caught up in either projects and/or activities that do not solely focus on their mission. Losing track of what their overall initial intended goals, missions and purposes are, can often land up being neglected.

The High Holidays are just that time period where there are multiple days off; for synagogues, it is the busiest time of the year and for many Jewish nonprofits, momentum staggers as continuity is hard to maintain with a couple of days off here mid-week and another a few days later, and so on.

A great way to get back to the drawing board and regroup is by doing one of the simplest yet most effective self-analysis that we have available to us.

This is not exclusive by any means to those needing to get back to focusing on who they are as an organization. Even those who are fully focused, self-analyzing periodically can be a revelation.

There are several methodologies in conducting a self-analysis, some are simple while others more complex. The one that I will share with you is known as the SWOT analysis. It is one that I was taught in business school, a more commonly known one and one where I have seen positive results. What resonates with me too about this particular analysis is based on an interaction I had with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. When we were discussing self-analysis, he pulled a little card from his wallet which contained a SWOT diagram which he uses at least monthly to keep him in line with his own personal as well as his company’s mission statement.

The SWOT Analysis

Even if you are familiar with the SWOT analysis, by just taking a few moments to actually conduct it could rectify, refocus and provide insight to what one’s focus should be on.

The SWOT analysis is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and is a structured planning method that evaluates those four elements of a project or business venture. For purposes of this article I will reference this in relation to your organization and/or yourself. It involves specifying the objective of the venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable or unfavorable to achieve that objective or goal.

By drawing a simple chart and inputting the most relevant characteristics and elements of your organization can provide priceless information:

  • Strengths: characteristics of the organization that give it an advantage over others
  • Weaknesses: characteristics that place your organization at a disadvantage relative to others
  • Opportunities: elements in the environment that your organization could utilize to its advantage
  • Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for your organization

Identification of SWOTs is important because they can inform later steps in planning to achieve the objective. First, decision-makers should consider whether the objective is attainable given the SWOTs. If the objective is not attainable, one must select a different objective and repeat the process.

Users of SWOT analysis must ask and answer questions that generate meaningful information for each category (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to make the analysis useful and find their competitive advantage.

Make sure to set aside appropriate time when conducting this analysis. If you are methodical and diligent in inputting all the needed and relevant information, you will be surprised in what you find out about where you are in accomplishing what you would like to, and, if it is for an organization, the insight acquired could be even more valuable.

The start of the new Jewish year is a great time to get back to your own and your organization’s mission. By creating your own SWOT analysis will mean you starting your year off in a most productive way, paving the way for a great year ahead for you and your organization.

Leib Bolel, an executive coach, is forward thinking when it comes to all things nonprofit and synagogue. With a successful history as a pulpit rabbi where he led his synagogue to double its membership while bringing its average membership age down, and having served as board member on several nonprofits, he now helps nonprofits and synagogues, and works with rabbis to exceed their goals. In addition Rabbi Bolel leads MAKOR – a Center for young Jewish families and professionals, providing educational opportunities and Shabbat Services in Scottsdale Arizona. For more information visit




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