Top 6 Strategy Workshop Tools and How to Use Them Most Effectively

Great strategy workshop facilitators are resourceful, think well on their feet, and have the right workshop tools at their disposal to get everyone involved and turn lively discussions into meaningful insights and results.

Here are my top 6 most favorite strategy workshop tools and how to use them most effectively.

ToolDescriptionBest used to…More information
OGSMOGSM stands for Objectives, Goals, Strategies, Measures and is a one-page business plan. The OGSM methodology can lead through the strategy process, can document the strategic plan and lends itself to communicating and executing the strategy effectively.…document, communicate, and execute the strategy throughout the entire strategy process.Click here for more information
PESTEL AnalysisPESTEL stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal Analysis…examine the external environment during the Industry Analysis phase to identify opportunities and threats
Porter’s Five ForcesMethod to analyze competition, competititive intensity and thereby attractiveness of an industry.…gauge industry or segment profitability (“ability to make money”) during Industry Analysis phase
SWOT AnalysisSWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The analysis examines internal strengths and weaknesses of the business and external opportunities and threats. …bring together and document insights from the Business Analysis and Industry Analysis phases. Seek to use strengths to take advantage of opportunities and mitigate threats. Improve or manage your weaknesses relevant to your objectives, opportunities and threats.
Directional Policy Matrix
(also known as McKinsey Nine-Box-Matrix)
Framework to determine investment priorities by assessing investment options by industry attractiveness (y-axis) and by your competitive strength (x-axis)…decide where to prioritize resources and ‘where to play’ when many markets or business opportunities are available. Prepared during Business Analysis and Industry Analysis phases and used during Vision phases.
Porter’s Generic StrategiesFramework to describe how your business creates a competitive advantage by either pursuing a cost leadership, differentiation, or niche focus strategy.…describe competitive positioning of your business during Industry Analysis phase and shape resource allocation during Vision phase

Only 6. That’s it! There are many, many more tools out there. However, I like to keep things simple and some of these are complicated enough.

The right tool for the right strategic question

The key to successful facilitation and ultimately a successful strategy workshop is not to run through model after model and fill template after template. The reason you use a tool is because you need a job done. You have a strategic question for which you need a concise answer. You apply the appropriate tool that will lead you to the answer.

Let’s take another look at that list of 6 tools and determine which tool is best used for which strategic question.

ToolStrategic QuestionsHow to answerHow to use
OGSMWhat are my strategic priorities?
Where to play?
How to win?
OGSM relates Opportunities & Goals (the WHAT) with Strategies & Measures (the HOW)Fill template on computer
PESTEL AnalysisWhat are external opportunities or threats for my business? Framework identifies external trends by category to design mitigation measuresFlip charts / Brainstorm
Porter’s Five ForcesCan we sustainably make money in this industry?Framework analyzes competitive intensity from 5 perspectives. When each is high, ability to make money over the long term is low. Flip charts / Brainstorm
SWOT AnalysisWhat are my core competencies? What are key strengths for my business? Identify top 3-4 strengths and weaknesses of the business vis-a-vis most promising opportunities and most urgent threatsFlip charts / Brainstorm
Directional Policy Matrix
(also known as McKinsey Nine-Box-Matrix)
Where to play? How to win?
Where to allocate my resources?
Invest in businesses with high attractiveness and high competitive strength. Maintain, harvest or divest businesses with medium or low assessment.Fill template on computer
Porter’s Generic StrategiesHow to develop and sustain competitive advantage?
How to allocate resources?
Drive profitability through cost leadership where the market determines prices. Drive profits via higher prices where product/service differentiation is possible Flip charts

You have noticed that I added a column on “how to use”. When working with these tools I have found it most effective to facilitate a discussion using flip charts, post it notes and markers. This keeps the group engaged and allows you to pace the discussion.

However you can of course also prepare hard copy templates of the frameworks or jointly fill a projected soft copy on a computer. Filling a computer template works particularly well for the OGSM framework and the DPM matrix. These tools benefit from quick calculations and tabulations of spreadsheet software (not to name any particular ones… :))

A word of caution

Have you heard this proverb?

“A fool with a tool is still a fool.”

Not that I am accusing you of being a fool… The point is that the tool by itself does not guarantee a fruitful discussion and meaningful insights. How you use the tool to generate answers is what matters.

So beware of template filling exercises. Let the strategy process guide your progress and only enter meaningful content after it has been discussed. Don’t let the template limit your thinking. Stimulate the group to do your thinking first and then capture your thoughts in the template – possibly after the workshop.

That’s why I like flip charts, post its, and markers.


While there are countless strategy tools, I like 6 to answer the most critical strategic questions during the strategy process. Use them to guide you to the answers and capture the insights in the respective strategic framework.

  • OGSM
  • PESTEL Analysis
  • Porter’s Five Forces
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Directional Policy Matrix
  • Porter’s Generic Strategies

If you enjoyed this article or have questions or comments, please leave us a reply below. Would love to hear about your experiences with these tools.

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