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  • Jesse Arnoldson

How do You Keep Your Planning Session Positive? S.O.A.R.

If you are fortunate enough to belong to an organization that does regular strategic planning then most likely you’ve participated in a S.W.O.T. analysis. This is a helpful tool to gage’s your group’s perception on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. While it is helpful, the majority of the time the bulk of the exercise revolves around the firm’s weaknesses. It can be enlightening to hear what employees believe to be your company’s Achilles’ heels; however, it can also put a real damper on things if it turns into an uncontrolled complaint fest.

Recently at an Idaho MGMA meeting, I was introduced by Valor Health’s Interim CEO and MedMan alum, Brad Turpen, to an alternative planning tool called S.O.A.R.; Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results. While very similar to S.W.O.T., you’ll see that it makes a notable difference. Through this exercise your group will work to answer these basic questions:

  • What are our greatest strengths?

  • What are our best opportunities?

  • What is our preferred future?

  • What are the measurable results that will tell us we’ve achieved that vision of the future?

This accomplishes two things that S.W.O.T. does not; guides an individual in converting their perceived strengths and opportunities into a tangible vision and forces them to draw a line in the sand that they will use to define success for said vision.

Truly, I’m a “silver lining” kind of guy but I also believe strongly in taking lofty goals and assigning them some accountability. If you feel like you’ve beaten the “W” to death over the last few years’ planning sessions then I suggest you give S.O.A.R. a try.

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