The Group Dynamic SWOT Methodology

One thing I do to help leaders is teach them how to facilitate a SWOT activity.

SWOT stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

I’m going to assume that you already know the concepts behind SWOT (if not, we’ll make this clear during your workshop or session).

I received a request to post about the way I typically facilitate SWOT activities, and this post is to show just that.

This facilitation method works best with a group of 9-24 people (though there is no magic number).

First, divide people into three groups. The, in each group have one person be the “Convener”. This person will call on people in their group to share ideas and keep everyone on task.

Also have one person be the “Documenter” for each group. This person will write things down as the group is brainstorming.

Phase One — “Quantity”

To allow for people who may not speak up much to be heard, take a couple minutes for each person to individually write down 2-3 notions they believe belong in each corner of the SWOT box.

Next, the Convener begins the conversation by calling on each person to share their ideas.

The group can share what they wrote down, then brainstorm and piggyback on each other’s ideas to come up with 6-12 [in the O and T boxes] or 12-18 [in the S and W boxes].

Remember, all numbers are guidelines. Following the “no idea is a bad idea” rule, have the Documenter write down all ideas that are shared.

Phase Two — Start on “Quality”

Have those who do not have specific roles in each group swap groups to create 3 new groups (the Convener and Documenter stay put).

Step 1: The Convener and Documenter share their lists with the new group, making sure everyone understands each idea.
Step 2: For each idea, make sure there is more or less a consensus. If there’s enough stuff written in each box, take things off the table for the time being that don’t have consensus. Have the Documenter draw a thin line through these items.
Step 3: Take the four lists and come up with the “top half”. Circle the things that “make the cut”. These will be the most relevant, significant, and/or true notions for that category.

Phase Three — Wrapping up “Quality”

Have the Conveners and Documenters stay where they are, and the other people go to whichever group they have not yet been to.

Step 1: Looking at only the circled items, make sure everyone in the new group understands each notion.
Step 2: Now have the groups prioritize the circled items by impact on the organization.

Bring everybody back together and ask each Documenter to share their “top-half” items in each box. Eventually, it would be good to have about 6 things in each box.


This is the final step. Each person gets 2 votes to use on ideas in the right-hand column — those they would like to see the group work on the most. This is the step where being realistic is welcome. They can use their votes in either box in the right hand column.

Finally, the facilitator takes a look at the items that were voted on, and forms two temporary committees to tackle them. Following the rules of project management, determine “who will do what by when.”

For more basic SWOT info, check out Mind Tools.

If you’ve only read the instructions above, without watching the video, and they are unclear, please watch the video for clarification.

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