How to Use SOAR Analysis to Boost Business Performance

Updated on: 08 February 2024 | 6 min read
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Are you looking for a strategic planning tool that can help you leverage your strengths, identify opportunities, align your vision and create positive results? One tool that can help you achieve this is the SOAR analysis.

SOAR stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. It is a strategic planning framework that helps you identify your strengths, explore the opportunities in your market, articulate your aspirations, and measure your results.

In this blog post, we will explain what SOAR analysis is, how it differs from SWOT analysis, and how you can use it to create a powerful action plan for your business.

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What is SOAR Analysis and Who Invented It?

SOAR Analysis is a strategic planning tool that helps organizations to identify their strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results. Jacqueline Stavros, David Cooperrider & D. Lynn Kelley introduced this framework in 2003, in their paper ‘SOAR: A new approach to strategic planning’.

Unlike SWOT Analysis, which focuses on both strengths and weaknesses, SOAR Analysis emphasizes the positive aspects of the organization and its potential for growth and improvement. SOAR Analysis can be used to create a shared vision of the future, align strategic initiatives with organizational values, and develop action plans to achieve desired outcomes.

Differences Between SWOT and SOAR

AspectSWOT AnalysisSOAR Analysis
PurposeTactical action plan to assess current state (where the company is)Visionary-based action plan to address potential (forward-thinking)
FocusIdentifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threatsEmphasizes strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and result
Negative AspectsIncludes weaknesses and threatsEliminates weaknesses and threats
ApproachAnalyzes both internal and external factorsPrimarily focuses on internal factors (strengths and aspirations)
PerspectiveBalanced view of positive and negative aspectsPositive and optimistic view, leveraging strengths for growth
Strategic DirectionHelps formulate strategies to mitigate weaknesses and threatsDrives strategies based on strengths and aspirations
Decision-MakingGuides decisions related to risk management and resource allocationGuides decisions related to growth and positive impact
ImplementationAddresses challenges and vulnerabilitiesLeverages existing strengths to achieve desired outcomes
Example QuestionsWhat are our core competencies? - What external factors pose risks?What unique capabilities do we have? - How can we create a positive difference?
Overall AssessmentWidely used and comprehensive, but may focus on negativesForward-looking, optimistic, and encourages leveraging strengths

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SOAR Analysis

How to conduct a SOAR Analysis in 5 steps

1. Identify Strengths

What are the things that you do well? What are your unique capabilities, resources and assets? What are the positive aspects of your culture, values and brand?

2. Identify Opportunities

What are the external trends, changes and needs that you can take advantage of? What are the gaps or niches that you can fill or create? What are the potential partnerships, collaborations or alliances that you can form or strengthen?

3. Determine Your Aspirations

What is your vision for the future? What are your goals and objectives? What are your core values and purpose? What are the desired outcomes and impacts that you want to achieve?

4. Figure Out How to the Measure Results

How will you measure your progress and success? What are the key performance indicators, metrics and milestones that you will use? How will you communicate and celebrate your achievements?

5. Create an Action Plan

How will you implement your strategy? What are the specific actions, tasks and responsibilities that you will assign? What are the resources, timelines and budgets that you will allocate? How will you monitor and evaluate your performance?

Advantages of SOAR Analysis

  • It builds on your strengths rather than dwelling on your weaknesses.

  • Fosters a positive, optimistic and appreciative mindset.

  • Encourages collaboration, engagement and participation among stakeholders.

  • Aligns your vision, mission and values with your strategy.

  • Creates a clear and compelling picture of your desired future.

  • Inspires action, innovation and change.

Limitations of SOAR Analysis

  • May overlook or underestimate the challenges, risks and threats that you face.

  • Too vague or unrealistic in defining your aspirations and results.

  • Lacks specificity or detail in creating your action plan.

  • It requires more time and effort to conduct than a SWOT Analysis.

  • May not be suitable for every situation or context.

Where and When Should You Choose SOAR Analysis?

A SOAR Analysis can be used for various purposes, such as:

  • Developing a strategic plan for your organization, team or project.

  • Conducting a situation analysis or environmental scan.

  • Identifying your competitive advantage or unique value proposition.

  • Creating a vision statement or a mission statement.

  • Setting goals and objectives.

  • Evaluating your performance or progress.

You should choose a SOAR Analysis when you want to:

  • Focus on the positive aspects of your situation rather than the negative ones.

  • Involve and empower your stakeholders in the planning process.

  • Create a shared vision and a common direction for your organization.

  • Motivate and inspire yourself and others to take action.

How to Conduct a SOAR Analysis with Creately

  • Start by creating a new workspace and choose a SOAR Analysis template from the library. You can also opt to create a template from scratch using the shape library. Customize your template with color themes, icons, images and fonts.

  • Conduct a brainstorming session with the team and use stickies to add strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results in the corresponding sections of the analysis. Use dot voting to select the best ideas.

  • Include additional details, docs and attachments to each sticky through the notes panel.

  • Get real-time feedback from your team with comments to finalize the analysis.

  • Create action items based on the analysis by inserting a Kanban into the same workspace. Use @mentions to assign tasks, and use the project management capabilities to track progress.

Conclusion

A SOAR Analysis is a powerful strategic planning tool that can help you leverage your strengths, identify opportunities, align your vision and create positive results. By following the five steps of SOAR, you can develop a comprehensive and actionable strategy for your organization, team or project. You can also use SOAR for various purposes and contexts, depending on your needs and goals.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it useful. If you did, please share it with your friends, colleagues or network. Thank you for reading and happy SOARing!

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FAQs About SOAR Analysis

Can SOAR be used for departmental strategies?
Yes, SOAR can be used for departmental strategies as well as organizational ones. In fact, it can be helpful to align the departmental strategies with the organizational ones using the SOAR framework. This way, you can ensure that each department contributes to the overall vision and goals of the organization.
What’s the best medium for running a SOAR session?

There is no one best medium for running a SOAR session. You can use different methods depending on your preferences, resources and objectives. Some of the possible mediums are:

  • Face-to-face meetings or workshops

  • Online platforms or tools

  • Surveys or questionnaires

  • Interviews or focus groups

  • Brainstorming or mind mapping

The important thing is to choose a medium that allows for effective communication, collaboration and participation among the participants.

Author

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Hansani Bandara Content Specialist

Hansani has a background in journalism and marketing communications. She loves reading and writing about tech innovations. She enjoys writing poetry, travelling and photography.

View all posts by Hansani Bandara →