SOAR (TM), don’t SWOT yourself

Raise your hand if you have ever been in one of those interminable meetings where at one point, the manager says, “Let’s do a SWOT analysis on this situation.”  And there you were, bright eyed and bushy tailed, all ready to reflect on the strengths of the market situation and to dig into the opportunities for your product, only to get totally deflated when it came to considering the weaknesses and the THREATS of it! Talking about canceling out all the good and fuzzy feelings that were generated in the first part of the session, and what’s more, the last part left you with either a fighting spirit, yeah, competition, or with the humdrum feelings that the more things change, the more they will remain the same.

We have done this for years, with unrelenting enthusiasm.  But why?  Are we so inured to the possibility that we could actually do better than that?  That we could actually SOAR?

Thanks for the cue.  Because, yes, SOAR, is the alternative, not only as the concept of raising out of the ordinary, but also as an acronym for an analysis that is anathema to SWOT.  Like with SWOT, we consider Strengths, the strengths that are inherent in the organization or a market situation; and we examine the Opportunities.  But here comes the part that makes the difference:  Instead of stopping the momentum of taking of for flight by looking at our threats or weaknesses, we seek to rise even higher by asking the question:  What are our Aspirations?  Where do we want to go (fly, really)?  What is our highest purpose and expression of our truest and most aspiring selves?  As you are reading this, what are YOU feeling?  My guess would be that your spirits are lifted and you can see a glimmer of hope sneaking in, a sense of optimism, renewed energy.  The fuel for the upward journey.   Can you see how that would make a difference in an ordinary organizational meeting?  Any meeting, even meeting yourself?

But wait, you say, there is a letter missing.  You are right, there is still the “R” to cover.  This one is special, because it has two friends:  Resources and Results.  It lets you choose which one you want to focus on, and it invites you to look at both. 

Let’s start with Results.  What concretely would you like to see once your aspirations are achieved?  Those could be SMART goals (if you can’t prey yourself away from traditional business jargon) or any other expression of your dream situation. 

And there is Resources.  That’s the treasure trove where you can find the people, the publications, the venues, the tools to put the cathedral of your aspirations into place. 

Now, don’t you think it is more fun to SOAR than to SWOT yourself?  Give it a try and let me know how it went J

SOAR is trademarked and was created by Jackie Stavros and Gina Hinrichs (have a look at The Thin Book of SOAR: building strength-based strategy, 2009) A useful web site is www.soar-strategy-com. 

Image source: Stavros, Cooperrider & Kelly, 2006,