A SWOT analysis is a planning approach used to understand the factors that will likely affect the success of a business or project. These factors are divided into key components, namely Strengths and Weaknesses (internal factors), as well as Opportunities and Threats (external factors). The exercise tends to be used part of a strategic planning process.


The group identifies the project’s overall objective, and then shares ideas (or ‘brainstorms’) the internal and external factors that will either enable or hinder them achieving that objective.  They do this by focusing on each of the four SWOT components, one after the other.




Any number of participants

For larger groups, the participants can be allocated to smaller break-out rooms/groups, e.g. five to ten participants per group. Each break-out room will follow the same implementation steps, below, and report back to the larger group.


Minimum 45 minutes | F2F & Online



  • A whiteboard and whiteboard markers, OR a vacant wall space, post-its/sticky notes and pens. (Online version: An online collaboration tool, with a whiteboard function that can be edited and screen-shared.)


  • The facilitator should decide on the project that will be analysed, and a clear definition of its core objective.
  • The facilitator should familiarise themselves with the principles of effective brainstorming, as this will also apply to the SWOT analysis exercise.
  • The SWOT matrix can be drawn on the whiteboard beforehand. If a blank wall and sticky notes will be used, A4 papers can be stuck in four dedicated areas, with the headings Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, to indicate the quadrants. Online version: See an example of an online collaboration tool’s (Miro) SWOT template here.

Step 1

The facilitator should start by explaining the objective of the exercise, as well as the four components/quadrants (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Read more on the meaning of the components here. Note: Any reference to ‘organisation/business’ in SWOT literature/resources can be swapped with ‘project’ for the purposes of a workshop.

Step 2

The facilitator shares their definition of the project’s core objective and asks for input from the participants. The phrasing of the objective can be altered, based on their feedback, until everyone agrees on it.

Step 3

The facilitator runs a brainstorm on each of the SWOT components. The key themes and most favoured ideas for each of the components are identified, as a result of the brainstorming exercise.

Step 4

The facilitator leads a discussion on how these key themes will affect the desired objective. The participants are invited to volunteer ideas on the implications (i.e. on how Strengths may be maximised,  how Opportunities may be used, how Weaknesses may be mitigated and how Threats may be overcome – based on the themes/ideas identified). Note: This phase may result in a follow-up session, if the workshop session is limited in terms of time.

  • As per any brainstorming exercise, the facilitator should encourage participation from all participants and guard against any  individual dominating the discussion.
  • No ideas should be criticised during the brainstorming phase, and all ideas should be captured by the facilitator.

SWOT analysis evolved from a study in the 1960s led by researchers at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), followed by other strategic and business management consulting publications throughout the 1970s. Read more here.

The above guidelines were developed by the database contributors and draws on their own practical experience of workshop facilitation, the online resources cited, as well as the following:



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