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appreciative inquiry (ai) + SWOT = SOAR
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SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat) Analysis is a strategic planning tool. The AI community has enhanced SWOT by incorporating AI principles as follows:
  • SWOT findings relate especially to external competitive environment
  • AI findings relate especially to internal organizational environmenta and motivation

    Ideas to use AI in SWOT analysis:

  • Prepare for brainstorming by pairing participants with instructions to ask each other about their strengths, values and wishes for the future. Then return to the group to conduct SWOT analysis.
  • Prior to discussing weaknesses, require partipants to frame weaknesses in terms of the positive future they aspire to create.
  • Prior to planning phase, require participants to tell stories of their best experiences of the desired future states.
  • Do not ignore the undesired current state. Take time to understand it, but frame whatever is recorded in positive terms of a desired future state.

    Jackie Stavros' alternate to SWOT, which frames the same ideas* in more appreciative terms is SOAR:

  • Stories of success
  • Opportunities available to us
  • Aspirations for the future
  • Resource available and needed to attain our aspirations
    Jackie made this recent contribution on the AI discussion list (see links at the bottom of the page).

    * While weaknesses and threats do not appear, an effectively conducted appreciative inquiry approach would draw these issues and incorporate positive future resolutions rather than negative historical anchors - for example, if you ask What are the benefits if we are highly successful? it is likely people will raise an interesting range of risks that are very different from and often more significant than the ones people mention when I ask about risks. SOAR includes execution of strategy via Continuous Improvement.

    No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.
    We must learn to see the world anew. Albert Einstein