Health Service Co-Design


SWIFT ideas

SWIFT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Individuality, Fixes and Transformation.

Each improvement idea is assessed for its strengths and weaknesses, and its individuality (what makes it different). Fixes (solutions to the weaknesses) are identified and the improvement idea is transformed (changed).

Why use it

The SWIFT tool enables you to:

  • Take a considered approach to all improvement ideas including out of the box ones. 
  • Assessing your ideas against set criteria.
  • Make robust, well-informed and transparent decisions about service improvements. 
  • Select the most viable improvements from a larger list and improve them.
When to use it

Use SWIFT when you have a number of good potential improvements you need to develop and perhaps prioritise.

1. Identify and list your improvements

2. For each improvement complete the swift analysis template below

3. Identify which improvements to prioritise

Review the list for improvements that are higher value for both patients and staff.

Swift analysis template

Template Instructions

  • Identify key strengths and weaknesses of each improvement. Strengths are typically the qualities that make the idea attractive, while weaknesses are those that may cause difficulty and/or include elements that may need to be prevented or resolved. Beware of emphasising weaknesses and difficulties over strengths - be positive about the idea.
  • Explore what makes each improvement especially individual - new, different, better and/or original.
  • Prioritise the weaknesses and brainstorm ways to fix the key ones, then others. 
  • Be specific in addressing each weakness - avoid combining them under one fix. The aim is to strengthen, evolve and develop the improvement (not to find further reasons why it can't work). Beware of assuming any particular weakness is impossible to solve, and note any circumstances where weaknesses might not apply or be easier to resolve.
  • 'Transform' the improvement into its final form. To do this, review your work on it (as above) and rewrite in a single simple statement.


  • Have someone own and champion each improvement during the session.
  • Keep your descriptions of strengths, weaknesses, individuality and fixes succinct - a few words at most.
  • Allow anything from 15 minutes to an hour per improvement (it depends on both the improvement and the size of your team).
  • Split your SWIFT exercise into a number of brief sessions rather than an extended one if possible (this keeps people fresh).
  • Make sure your focus on strengths and individuality is balanced with weaknesses and fixes.