How to run a SWOT analyses workshop in four hours


I’ve always resisted using SWOT analyses. To me it was a tool that large consultancies used to charge companies a lot of money. They send in dozens of analysts to produce a huge binder that is never actioned.

Recently a client asked me to help them with a SWOT analyses of there organization and I was forced to revisit my thinking and biases.

How can I make it my own?

The SWOT analyses is a tool created by a management consultant in the 60’s named Albert Humphries. He created a framework for companies to analyze their Strengths Weaknesses, opportunities and Threats.

Rather then send in a small army of analyses I decided to trust that the collective wisdom of the leadership team would have the necessary information they need to do a comprehensive SWOT analyses. That also has the added benefit of the team owning the result rather than renting the result from a third party.


Before the session, I divided the room into four sections and placed a flip chart in each section. I labeled each flip chart either STRENGTH, WEAKNESS, OPPORTUNITIES or THREATS.

At the base of each flip chart I placed appropriately colored Post-It notes.

The session

  1. I asked the leadership team to self-organize into groups of four.

  2. I gave them 25 minutes to generate as many ideas as they can(one-per Post it)

  3. After 25 minutes, I had one person remain to explain the board and the rest rotate counter clock-wise.

  4. During the next round, the presenter would rotate leaving behind a new presenter.

  5. We did this five times(25m,20m, 15,10m, 10m)

  6. I then brought the 4 flip charts to a central location for a debrief. After reviewing them and removing duplication I have each member three dots to vote what they felt where:

    1. The greatest strength

    2. The biggest weakness

    3. The greatest opportunity

    4. The most dangerous threat.

  7. They had three dots per sheet, that could be used in any way they want, three dots for a single post it or distributed.

  8. After this, I prioritized based on the number of dots and asked the question:

  9. Is this in fact the greatest two strength, weakness, opportunity and threats?

  10. After discussion and reorientation, we had the top 2,3 for each.

  11. After a break we took the top 2-3 from each and placed them on a separate board.

  12. I divided the group into four groups to generate as many ideas as we can and asked the following questions (one per team)

    1. What projects can we undertake to make these strengths even stronger

    2. What projects can we undertake to eliminate these weaknesses

    3. What projects can we undertake to capitalize on these weaknesses

    4. What projects can we undertake to turn these threats into opportunities

  13. Similar to above, we rotated until everyone had a chance to add their ideas

  14. Dot vote to select the most impactful ideas with the least effort.

Further resources

  • More on SWOT:

  • Dot-voting:

  • Diverge Merge: