Tuesday, October 17, 2017

SOAR Without SWOTs

Frequently I tell people (including the grad students I teach) that strategy can be done well in many different ways.  Certainly, I prefer the Mission Impact approach, but there are a lot of great methodologies out there that can work for organizations.

One interesting approach is S.O.A.R., which you can read more about it at this link.  S.O.A.R. stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results.  In this model, stakeholders are engaged to identify Strengths and Opportunities which then lead to the creation of Aspirations and desired Results.


S.O.A.R. which has its basis in Appreciative Inquiry, which is defined by the S.O.A.R. authors as “a philosophy and organizational change approach that builds on strengths and what is called the life-giving forces of the organization’s existence, its positive core.”*

While they do not include Weaknesses and Threats in their acronym, they are not left out.  The authors add: “Weaknesses and threats are not ignored. They are reframed and given the appropriate focus within the opportunities and results conversations. Ultimately it becomes a question of balance. Why not spend as much time or more on what you do well and how you can strengthen a strategic advantage? What gives you more energy to take action? What gives you confidence to set a stretch goal and achieve results?”*

S.O.A.R. leverages a 5-I Approach which asks the following questions:

Initiate: How shall we work together?

Inquire: What are our strengths and opportunities?

Imagine: What can we aspire to?

Innovate: What can we create to achieve our aspirations?

Inspire to Implement: How do we move forward to achieve our goals?

Answering these questions then provides a roadmap forward for the organization to implement its strategy.  If you like this basic description then think about ordering the book (it’s a quick read) and SOAR on to enhanced Mission Impact!

*Stavros, J.M. & G. Hinrichs. The Thin Book of SOAR, Thin Book Publishing, Bend, OR, 2009.


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

“Do More with Less???”

Can we find out who invented that phrase?  – “Do More with Less.” How crazy! I want to have a talk with him (I am sure it was a him.)

Don’t get me wrong – I am all in favor of efficiency.  And, if in pursuit of a new process to accomplish a goal you end up inventing a way to do more with less, then great.  Even setting that as an inspiring goal could be a super idea.

But that is not how “Let’s do more with less” usually gets discussed.  It gets discussed as a “spin” on a situation where more is needed, but resources have been cut.  So some brilliant “leader” tries to inspire their team with “Let’s do more with less!” 

The problem is that it often happens to people who are already under-resourced and overworked.  So it wears thin quickly.  If you find yourself in a really tough situation where resources have been surprisingly cut and you really must “do more with less” – then don’t try to put a positive spin on it.  A chocolate covered cowpie is still a cowpie.  

Be straight with your team, e.g., “we have been dealt a tough hand and we need to make the best of it.”  Yes, it does provide an opportunity to try to be creative.  But here’s the thing – don’t try to make it your new culture.  Do your best to lower the need for “more” and redouble your efforts to get additional resources.  Otherwise, you will encourage burnout and your best people will go to an organization where they “Do More with More” – how’s that for a slogan!

Resource challenges occur in good times and in bad; they are a part of any organization’s life.  The key is engaging the situation proactively and working through it with a positive attitude – without making it the “new normal.”

P.S. For a fun Dilbert “spin” on “More with Less,” see here.



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.