SWOT. PEST. Porter’s Five Forces. My own Strategy Pyramid. There are others, in fact, lots of others.
I think they’re called conceptual frameworks, although I’ve also seen strategy frameworks and analytical frameworks, and other terms. The words used don’t matter much. To me, a lot of these are interchangeable, and what matters is applying them consistently, much more than which one you use.
SWOT is my personal favorite. It stands for strengths weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are attributes of your company that you have to deal with on the short term and you can — sometimes, if you do it right — change on the long term. I’ve written a lot about SWOT. For example, click this Google search.
Then there’s the famous Porter’s Five Forces strategy model. Porter was one of the pioneers on strategy analysis at Harvard about a generation ago. There’s a lot of writing about that, so if you’re curious, search Google for “Porter’s Five Forces.”
PEST surprised me the other day when someone sent me an email asking about it. I had to Google it. It stands for political, environmental, social, and technological forces. That’s a good way to analyze an external business environment. For that one, search for “pest analysis” because searching pest yields a lot on rodents and bugs.
The last one I’ll mention is my own (although not my favorite, because SWOT is my favorite) work, the Strategy Pyramid. It’s been very useful to me for a lot of years of business planning.
What I think really matters about any of these is how you use it. They are all intended to generate thoughts, ideas, new possibilities, to help bring people into the discussion, to facilitate brainstorming and improve vision. They are not worth arguing about, substituting one for another, insisting that one is better than the other, or any of that.
Choose whichever one you want, whichever fits well with your plan if that’s what you’re doing, and apply it well and consistently.