SWOT analysis is one of the most commonly utilized strategic frameworks for collaborative organizational development. While each letter in the acronym represents an area of research, another similarly named analytical tool replaces two of the four areas to investigate. Because it provides a different approach to analyzing a company and its industry, SOAR analysis is a viable alternative for addressing organizational opportunities.
SWOT analysis entails defining a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The strengths of a company are what the company does best and include all competitive advantages over the rest of the market. Weaknesses entail areas of the company that reflect a need for improvement. These two components are internal evaluations.
The other two factors require analysis of the climate of the industry. Opportunities are areas of potential growth. This includes new clientele, different products, various geographical regions in which to transact, or other business opportunities. Alternatively, threats are external factors that pose challenges to an organization that is competing for the same suppliers, customers, and contracts.
SOAR maintains two of the four areas of analysis from SWOT; strengths and opportunities remain, but in this tool, weaknesses and threats are replaced with aspirations and results. Aspirations address what the company wants to be doing, who the company wants to serve, and where the company will operate. In addition, results define the methods of identifying and tracking progress. Results are the means of ensuring progress is being made and the overall plan of the company is being followed.
The two changes above revolve around a different strategic purpose. While SWOT analysis takes a look at where a company is, SOAR strives to be forward-thinking to address the potential of the business. By eliminating weaknesses and threats, SOAR focuses on positive elements more likely to be influenced by the company. This can be a refreshing change, as SWOT requires a company to dwell on competing forces negatively impacting business. Therefore, SOAR focuses on possibilities, while SWOT is driven by competition. In addition, SOAR incorporates a level of accountability by addressing the metrics in which results will be identified and tracked. SOAR is also easier to integrate throughout an organization. SWOT is considered a top-down management tool that is only developed by a few individuals of the company.
Selecting an Analysis Tool
Both methods are valuable tools for evaluating a business and identifying competitive areas to develop. SWOT is more traditional, so more external parties may identify easier with the findings. However, SOAR analysis is a stronger option for younger, less-developed companies. This is true for companies developing an identity or building a market brand. This is also the case for entities that do not quite know what the weaknesses will be. SOAR is considered more action-orientated compared to SWOT’s analytical approach. Therefore, SOAR is more beneficial for organizations striving for a breakthrough or innovation as opposed to incremental improvement.