An analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) has been a pillar in the business operations and strategic management world for decades. Why? Because - when done right 😉 - it works! A SWOT analysis is a phenomenal tool to create an informed decision on the best course of action. While many retrospective techniques help the team look back, a SWOT analysis helps your team decide how to move forward.
Analyze current team or organizational position
Examine the potential impact of a decision
Decide on the best course of action to move forward
This technique is based on a careful examination of a topic or team by asking the participants four questions - what are the strengths, what are weaknesses, what are the opportunities, and what are the threats?
To start this technique in Retrium, simply select SWOT analysis from the technique picker.
Note: SWOT has a few variations including PEST (Political, Economic, Social, Technological), SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results), SWAT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Assumptions, and Truths), and a variety of others. If you prefer one of these variations, you can! Just use the custom columnar option in the technique picker and create your preferred method.
To start the retrospective, the facilitator should explain the meaning of the 4Ls. While this retrospective technique shines because of its simplicity, make sure you still take some time to ensure everyone understands and agrees on the definition of each "L". Shared understanding is the foundation of any successful team activity.
These are the ideas, tools, and positive attributes of the decision you are discussing.
On the flip side of strengths, your weaknesses are things that need to be made better or are holding you back.
If you imagine the best-case scenario, what happens? These are the areas where your team can see real future benefits for the team or organization.
Threats stand in the way of your success or the negative ramifications that could occur if your team takes the wrong path forward. These often go beyond blockers and may include things that are out of your control.
When everyone feels comfortable and settled in, it's time to continue!
Let’s brainstorm! All participants share their ideas to fill the board. If you are a remote team (or just on a strict timeline) this part can happen asynchronously to allow team members time before the discussion kicks off to put in notes. Retrium allows participants to share their notes anonymously to help create a psychologically safe environment for providing feedback. You also have the option at this point, to keep notes hidden. 🤫 Why? Because keeping notes hidden helps prevent groupthink and ensures that team members aren't influenced by others’ opinions. If possible, making space for private idea generation is the best way to collect honest feedback and perspective during your SWOT analysis. If your participants are looking for inspiration, you can show the notes, while keeping the author anonymous. When the timebox ends, the participants should have added each of their ideas as individual sticky notes to the relevant column.
This is the phase, the participants can read all the notes and see if your team is fully aligned or if there are a variety of perspectives to consider. At this stage, participants group notes with a similar theme. Do you have five notes about the opportunity to expand your marketable audience? Group them! ? Are there twelve notes about the speed of the team and quality of output? Those sound like some notes you need to cover together. It is up to you as the facilitator to decide if you want to keep notes in the same column or group similar ideas across columns. Regardless of the topics, the Grouping Phase helps identify themes for the upcoming team discussion.
If you have ever been in a meeting where you only wanted to discuss one issue but the meeting ended before the issue was discussed, this is the phase for you. If there are a lot of topics to discuss, it can be challenging to structure the discussion in a meaningful way. This is how Dot Voting helps teams prioritize discussion topics during the retrospective based on the collective prioritization of the group. This way the issues that mean the most to the most people are covered first!
If dot voting was used, then the team discusses the notes in prioritized order. If not, the facilitator can choose the order of discussion. You have a few options to keep your timebox on track. First, you can timebox the entire discussion based on your meeting schedule. Or you may also choose to timebox the conversation of each individual topic (5 or 10 minutes). The advantage of this approach is that it tends to keep the conversation on topic and moving at a faster pace.Remember! As the conversation progresses, it's imperative that the facilitator also capture the action items that come out of the discussion to help the team create an action plan for future improvement.
By the end of the discussion, the team should have a clear understanding of the current situation and some action items to help the team move forward. These action items can be captured in the team's action plan for your team to return to as the team progresses. It's important for these topics to be discussed and celebrated during the next iteration, at daily standups and other meetings to keep the team aligned on their commitment to continuous improvement.