Sunday, September 04, 2016

Planning for success

“People commit to what they help create”

This back to school time of year also marks a fresh start for many of us in business. It’s a time of planning and focusing on the future

As someone from the non-profit sector, and even within my business, I have tended to use a SWOT analysis to determine future plans.  SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  This strategic planning exercise is one commonly used by organizations and has its place in the planning of your business, organization and even your life.

However, at a recent conference I learned more about another strategic planning tool that excited me.  It’s acronym is SOAR – strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results.

What appealed to me is the focus on the positive.  While yes you do need to look at what could hold you back from achieving your goals, with SOAR the focus is on the future, while SWOT can leave you stuck, particularly if the weaknesses and threats seem overwhelming.

The presenter also advised that while SWOT tended to be a top-down approach, the SOAR process was inclusive, involving everyone, including members and clients.  As he shared, people commit to what they help create.  The advantages of SOAR is it draws on the energy and creativity of the participants, and fosters ownership in the outcome.

“You are starting from a different mindset.” he observed, and went on to suggest several questions to ask when going through this particular process:

  • ·      What are the root causes of our success?
  • ·      What key achievements are we most proud of?
  • ·      What positive aspects of service have others commented on?
  • ·      What are we known for?
  • ·      What makes us unique?
  • ·      What key resources and areas of expertise give us an advantage?

As you will see they are all forward-thinking, positive questions, helping you to look to the future and to build on your strengths.

While the presentation was aimed at non-profit organizations, I see great merit in using these questions to help you determine what you want to achieve moving forward in your business.  The terminology is just different, for example we’d talk more about brand recognition and unique value proposition, but bottom line whether you are running a charity or a business, we all want our endeavours to be financially successful and meet the needs of our clients.

So as you plan where you want to take your business next, consider using this technique – you may even want to involve key customers and members of your team in the process.

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