Anybody that has been to business school, or was forced to attend a strategy seminar or workshop, is familiar with the SWOT tool for strategic planning. The SWOT process is known for uncovering negative issues and focusing on the problems which need to receive the most attention. As you can see below, the SWOT analysis can create a mind-set that is problem focused:
Strengths: Internal attributes of the organization that are helpful to achieving the objective.
Weaknesses: Internal attributes of the organization that are harmful to achieving the objective.
Opportunities: External conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective.
Threats: External conditions which could do damage to the business’ performance.
Going from SWOT to SOAR is moving from a problem focus to a strengths based inquiry. The SOAR process is based on appreciative inquiry and shifts to a more positive focus. Where SWOT focuses on fixing what’s wrong, SOAR focuses on increasing what’s right as well as finding and capitalizing on strengths that will create preferred outcomes:
Strengths: What are we really good at?
Opportunities: How can we magnify and take advantage of our collective strengths?
Aspirations: If we could wave our magic wand…
Results: What can we make tangibly possible?
Those with knowledge of positive psychology might be in familiar territory with the SOAR approach. SOAR is built on the idea that positive imaging drives positive actions. SOAR is a positive and realistic strategy development concept, a bottom-line tool that can increase profit, production, and attract and retain talent. The SOAR process is built on the idea that:
What we ask determines what we find.
What we find determines how we talk.
How we talk determines how we imagine together.
How we imagine determines what we achieve together.
SOAR is a participatory process that involves the whole organization. SOAR is collaborative, strengths-based, honorable, and inclusive, and offers a much greater opportunity to move your organization to a successful future.
In my next post I will cover the Appreciative Inquiry “5-I” process to help get you started.