Making business great again using SWOT and coffee

SWOT analysis is one of the most popular tools for strategic analysis. Often an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document is used in the process. On you get an online analysis template that is tied directly to your business model. There is a reason for this – a key success factor for a SWOT analysis is to have a good overview of how the business works.

Before you start your SWOT analysis make sure you have a good overview of the core parts of your business. Having a business model canvas as a starting point is a great way to set your team up for a successful SWOT workshop!

What is the SWOT?

A SWOT analysis is a semi-structured review of the way your business works. You will assemble a team representing complementing viewpoints on your situation, and have an open discussion on both positive and negative factors, internal and external. The internal factors you consider are your strengths, and your weaknesses. The external ones are threats and opportunities. These are organized into a matrix, creating a compact view of the entire field for everyone to share.

Key success factors for a SWOT analysis

These success factors apply to SWOT analyses, but can also be great reminders for how to run other collaborative meetings too! The value of the SWOT is dependent on everyone’s contribution – so make sure you set yourself up for success. Your company depends on it!

  • Preparations
    • Prepare a business model canvas to be shared and discussed
    • Prepare the list of key questions under each SWOT category
    • Assemble a great workshop team
    • Get the necessary props for a good meeting (food, drinks, post-its, screen sharing, etc.)
  • The workshop
    • Make an introduction of the purpose of the SWOT and the business model canvas to put everybody on the same plate
    • Encourage ideas and open sharing
    • Be a workshop facilitator – not a dictator! If you do not have a good facilitating leader internally consider getting a good consultant.
    • Separate tasks into “brainstorming” and “refinement” sessions
    • Make sure everyone is allowed to have a voice
  • Documentation
    • Use a template to document
    • Document the brainstorming informally using post-its, and the refinement in the template to be stored and used
    • Make documentation shareable with the team and other co-workers
  • Follow-up
    • Communicate results!
    • Delegate tasks and integrate actions into actual workflows
    • Set a review date for tasks and the SWOT as a whole

To ask or not to ask – what is the question?

Coming up with the right questions to trigger great discussions and uncover strategic strengths and weaknesses can be difficult. Here are some starting points – but make sure you adapt these to your business models, your goals and your team!


People are often struggling to articulate strengths – sometimes being shy and afraid to brag. Be honest – note down what you are good at. It is the basis of your company’s growth. You need to know what you are good at, make people contribute.

  • What do you do particularly well – as seen from the point of view of your customers?
  • What do you do particularly well – as seen form the internal point of view?
  • What are your greatest internal resources?
    • know-how, people, patents, education, assets, systems, software, contacts, etc?
  • What sets you apart from the competition – where is your key advantage?


People tend to exaggerate weaknesses – being super-risk-averse. Be realistic. Note your weaknesses but don’t sink into mindless discussions about why everything will go wrong. Murphy was wrong – a weakness is only an opportunity to improve. Find you key improvement points!

  • What factors internally can take focus away from your core mission?
  • Do you have serious competence gaps?
  • How is the capital situation?
  • What are the key distractions outside of your control – and how can you avoid being distracted?


Turning your attention outwards – now we seek opportunities in external situations and events. Spotting the opportunity is key to leaving the competitors behind and enjoying your victorious glass of champagne.

  • Are there trends in the market that you can use to your advantage?
  • Do you see synergies in cooperation with others?
  • Can you expand your existing value proposition to new segments?
  • Can you strengthen your value proposition to existing customers?
  • Are there new technologies emerging that you can use to your advantage?


Finding threats is a core activity for any risk manager. This is about external threats – changing demands, new competitors entering the market, that sort of thing.

  • Is the competitive landscape changing?
  • Are new products coming that can serve the need of customers better?
  • Is the demand changing because of trends or new focus?

From Post-It’s to

Post-its, whiteboards, big sheets of paper. That is truly better than digital tools in the brainstorming phase. But what happens later? Normally, one of the following:

  • Everything is thrown in the garbage and a lot of information is lost
  • It is put in a drawer but nobody remembers where
  • A photo is posted on the intranet but the original content disappears
Use the right level of documentation both during and after your SWOT analysis workshop – setting your SWOT process up with the right information flow makes the work more fun, faster and easier to use in day-to-day operations.

The better way? Keep it tied to your business model, and revisit your previous SWOT session when evaluating your business model. This drives real agility, real improvement – and allows you to avoid redoing a lot of the work. This is exactly what does. That’s why the recommended way to do SWOT’s is:

  • Create and communicate your business model canvas
  • Perform your offline brainstorming-phase SWOT
  • Evaluate your SWOT and document it together with your business model canvas
  • Revisit the canvas and the SWOT in tandem when preparing your strategy reviews

This is exactly what provides you with simple tools to do. Remember that tools are available to help and support – they have not been invented to constrain your process.

Want the tools? Head over to and sign up now (you get a 2-week full-featured free trial before paying anything)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *