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Learning and Knowledge Exchange


Understanding your external and internal context for better planning and decision-making

 SWOT and PESTEL are analytical tools that help identify the key external and internal factors that should be taken into account in order to achieve success in a project or initiative. They are usually used together, and are applied in a group setting to support effective strategic planning, decision-making and action planning. SWOT and PESTEL are cost- and time-efficient means for highlighting key issues relating to the context of a project or initiative which, if not identified and addressed, could critically affect the chances of success. They also offer the benefit of framing these issues in a way that is easy for participants to understand and discuss.


  • Experienced facilitator
  • Rapporteur.
  • Flip chart with plenty of paper and marker pens.
  • Optional: Laptop and projector.
  • 8 - 12 participants representing diverse relevant roles and ideally including decisionmakers. (Alternatively, up to 40 participants if using subgroups; see Variations below.)
  • 1 hour for quick SWOT; 2 hours for normal SWOT, or up to a half-day SWOT workshop for major initiatives; plus preparation time.


  • 1 - 6 persons with good research/analysis skills, to conduct initial research on the six PESTEL domains before the meeting and also participate at the meeting (they do count against the suggested limit of 12 participants).
  • 1 - 2 hours to review, expand and rank PESTEL inputs from research, before continuing with SWOT.

Download the full module on SWOT and PESTEL (PDF), including when and why to use, how to apply, tips for success, variations, and references.



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