What is SOAR analysis?
SOAR analysis is a strategic planning technique which helps organizations focus on their current strengths and opportunities, and create a vision of future aspirations and the result they will bring.
In contrast to SWOT analysis, the SOAR model uses appreciative inquiry to focus the business on what is known to work, rather than internal weaknesses or perceived threats that might not eventuate.
The output from a SOAR analysis is a set of actions that leverage strengths and opportunities to strive for shared aspirations with measurable results. It provides a basis for further in-depth analysis using other business tools.
Why do a SOAR analysis?
SOAR analysis is a powerful tool to bring stakeholders together to recognize the potential of the organization and create a shared vision of the future. Building on strengths requires less effort and resources than trying to correct weaknesses. The technique is more action oriented than a SWOT analysis and is focussed on outcomes. Use the SOAR model to:
- To explore new initiatives
- To develop a strategic plan and during annual strategy reviews
- To focus and redirect efforts and resources
- As part of a leadership development program
- To plan an individual’s career or develop their performance plan
Who can use a SOAR analysis?
A SOAR analysis is a good option for new, less developed organizations. It works for everyone, no matter what position or level they hold and can include both employees and external stakeholders. It applies to:
- All industries
- All levels of an organization
- Existing and new businesses
- Companies striving for breakthroughs rather than gradual improvement
- Individuals as part of their development plans
- Carefully select participants to provide expert knowledge but also a fresh perspective.
- Use technology to involve critical people in different locations rather than miss their contribution.
- Minimize Groupthink by brainstorming ideas individually then combining issues to get the overall picture.
- Be specific rather than broad when defining ideas.
- Use quantitative data where possible to focus on the crux of issue.
- Provide adequate time in the session to rank and prioritize ideas.
- Communicate outcomes to stakeholders and regularly update progress on actions.
SOAR analysis template
A SOAR analysis template is structured as a simple 2 x 2 matrix, resulting in four quadrants highlighting Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results.
What the organization does well, along with its key assets, resources, capabilities, and accomplishments.
Circumstances that your team could leverage for success, eg. to improve profitability, market share, or competitive edge.
An expression of what you want to be and achieve in the future. A vision to build on current strengths, provide inspiration, and challenge the current situation.
Tangible outcomes and measures that demonstrate you’ve achieved your goals and aspirations.
How to do SOAR analysis effectively
To get the best possible outcomes from your SOAR analysis, choose participants with a broad range of perspectives. The group should consist of people from across different departments within your organization and could even include other stakeholders such as clients, suppliers, and partners.
If it’s difficult to get all participants in one place at the same time, screen sharing software and video conferencing allow facilitators to use traditional brainstorming tools like poster paper, whiteboards, and sticky notes. However, making sure everyone’s ideas are incorporated and transcribing, collating and prioritizing can be challenging. Online collaboration software such as GroupMap solves many of these problems and provides an efficient way to include, and consolidate all relevant information.
The time required to conduct an effective SOAR analysis will vary. However, it’s possible to set the scene, brainstorm, and prioritize within 45 minutes. Development of an initial action plan may take a further 30-60 minutes
Define a clear, one sentence objective for the SOAR analysis.
Gather input and ideas.
Clarify content, group similar ideas, and delete duplicates.
Vote and prioritize issues according to impact on the organization.
Create an action plan assigning responsibility for each issue to a group or individual.
Share outcomes, including the action plan with relevant stakeholders.
Begin by stating the purpose of the SOAR exercise and ensure everyone is clear on the scope. Clarify:
- What level of the organization the process will focus on – strategic, tactical, project, product/service, or personal level) and
- Over what timeframe – i.e., the next month, year, or a multi-year period
Exploring the current vision of the organization, present any relevant data, and define the challenge for the session. The results from previous analysis and plans can be introduced at this point. For example, PEST/PESTEL, Stakeholder analysis, Business Model Canvas, SWOT analysis, BCG matrix, Porter’s Five-Forces.
Example SOAR Objectives:
- Define strategic priorities for the next five years
- Create a product development roadmap for Asia over the next two years
- Create a professional development plan for the next 12 months
Ensure the group has a shared understanding of what the four quadrants mean and the questions that need answering.
Use break out groups to address each section of the SOAR Matrix. The size of the groups will depend on the objective of the session, whether everyone is in the same location, and their role or relationship with the organization. You might even choose to gather individual input. This step is an excellent opportunity to involve various stakeholders.
Don’t completely ignore threats and weaknesses even though they aren’t defined in the SOAR matrix. Instead, reframe them as a positive statement as a strength, opportunity, or aspiration.
Now you have all the ideas; it’s time to organize them. Cull any duplicates, merge similar themes, and discard any which aren’t within scope.
This step can be quite time-consuming, especially if the brainstorming step was done as individuals or in many smaller groups. An online collaboration tool like GroupMap, which automatically collates information and allows instant editing and reorganization of the information will significantly reduce the time required for this step and produce better outcomes.
Prioritize the information identified from the SOAR analysis by asking participants to vote on the most important issues for each quadrant. These are the factors you should address in your SOAR action plan.
Assign each person with one or more votes which they distribute across the issues they feel are most important. With multiple votes, they could use one per item or more than one if they feel something is critical.
The top 3-5 issues in each quadrant form the basis of the action plan. Ideally, strengths and opportunities will combine to achieve aspirations, and give results.
Decide on one or more actions for each priority. Assign responsibility to a group or individual and agree on time frames for completion.
Generate a report incorporating the findings of the SOAR analysis and action plan to distribute to relevant stakeholders. This report provides a means for monitoring progress and issuing regular updates. It’s important that those who gave up their time and effort to contribute to the analysis see tangible outcomes and improvement over time or they will be unwilling to participate in similar processes in the future.
The report also allows provides input for further analysis using other business tools and a starting point for future reviews.
GroupMap automatically generates visually appealing reports in several formats for distribution, saving time and effort after the workshop.
Save effort, time and money with GroupMap
Whether you have your best minds together in the same room, or distributed around the world, GroupMap’s unique technology allows groups of up to 2000 to submit ideas independently at separate times, from different places, in different timezones. Prevent dominant personalities swaying the group, drowning out the opinions of others – GroupMap allows everyone to brainstorm independently then effortlessly combines that information to reveal the full spectrum of ideas. GroupMap templates keep the objective front and center throughout the session, keeping everyone on task. This ensures the activity identifies actionable issues rather than becoming just a discussion on ideas. GroupMap gives you all the group decision making tools you need to prioritize, decide and take action.
Create your first map and invite people in to start sharing their thoughts right NOW. Experience the power of GroupMap with our 14-day, no risk, FREE trial. You don’t even need to provide your credit card details to access to all of our features, including the entire suite of templates, for a full 14 days.