top of page

Let's SOAR Together!

Learn about the SOAR framework, a strategic planning approach at Aitkin County that everyone is invited to participate in! Gain
inspirational insights on how identifying strengths in your corner of Aitkin can lead to exciting new horizons for our county. I'll ask a few thought-provoking questions to help you envision a brighter future and invite you to participate in our SOAR process today!

00:00 / 07:02

Helpful Reading

Helpful Reading

Helpful Reading


Aitkin County is a community that stands as a testament to the power of forward-thinking and adaptive strategies in local governance. In today's episode we'll be exploring a unique framework that has revolutionized the way organizations approach their future: the SOAR analysis.

SOAR stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. This framework, unlike traditional models like SWOT, emphasizes a strengths-based approach to strategic planning. Where SWOT analysis focuses on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, SOAR shifts the narrative to a more positive and aspirational perspective. It's about leveraging what works well and exploring potential growth areas to achieve aspirational goals.

In the heart of Aitkin County, this approach has not only been embraced but has become a cornerstone of our strategic planning process, not only with Comissioners and Department Heads but everyone, no matter where they stand in the org chart! Our county, which is known for its vibrant community and natural beauty, has numerous strengths: a dedicated workforce, rich natural resources, and a close-knit community. These strengths form the foundation upon which opportunities are built and explored.

As we discuss the SOAR framework, think about your own workplace community within Aitkin County. What strengths do you see? How could these be the key to unlocking new opportunities? This episode will guide you through these questions, helping you envision a new way of strategic planning that focuses on the positives and possibilities.

Our journey through the SOAR framework in Aitkin County will not only provide insights into effective strategic planning but also inspire you to look at your own community through a new lens. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the strengths and opportunities that form the backbone of this transformative approach. Alright, let's turn our attention to the first two components of the SOAR framework: Strengths and Opportunities. This approach is not just about recognizing what we do well at Aitkin; it's about building on these strengths to uncover and seize new opportunities for growth and improvement.

Let's start with Strengths. In the context of Aitkin County, the strengths are evident in its community spirit, natural landscapes, and a resilient economy. These aren't just positive attributes; they are the pillars upon which the county's future is built. For instance, the community's strong connection to the environment has led to initiatives in sustainable tourism and conservation, showcasing how a strength can foster innovative opportunities.

Similarly, every county or organization has unique strengths. It could be a skilled workforce, cultural diversity, historic heritage, or technological advancements.

Recognizing these strengths is the first step towards leveraging them for strategic advantage.

Now, let's talk about Opportunities. In Aitkin County, the exploration of opportunities is directly tied to its strengths. For instance, the county's natural beauty isn't just a point of pride; it's an opportunity for developing eco-tourism and outdoor recreational activities, which in turn can boost the local economy and enhance community well-being.

But how do we identify these opportunities? It starts with a mindset shift. Instead of looking for problems to fix, we look for potential to realize. It involves community engagement – listening to the people who live and work in the county, understanding their aspirations, and aligning these with the county's strategic goals.

Think about your own corner of Aitkin County. What opportunities might be hiding in plain sight? How can your unique strengths be the key to unlocking these possibilities? Identifying opportunities often requires thinking outside the box, challenging the status quo, and being open to new ideas.

What are the unique attributes that set your area apart? These could be special knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes, resources or networks for instance. Now, consider how these strengths can be the foundation for uncovering new opportunities. So, how can you, as a member of the Aitkin workforce contribute to this process? It's important to remember that identifying strengths and opportunities is not just the responsibility of leaders or planners. It's a collaborative effort that requires input and engagement from everyone. Each employee's perspective is valuable and can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of what makes your community or organization unique and strong.

As you reflect on this, ask yourself these questions:

  • What strengths in my team am I most proud of?

  • How can these strengths be used to create new opportunities for growth and improvement for Aitkin County?

  • What role can I play in this process?

Once you've considered these questions, let us know what you think! Go to our Revitalization page and click on the "SOAR Together" link on the banner to share the strengths and opportunities you recognize at Aitkin. The answers to these questions are the first steps towards actively participating in our strategic planning porcess. They also set the stage for our next episode, where we will dive into the Aspirations and Results components of the SOAR framework. We'll explore how to transform opportunities into concrete goals and how to measure the success of our strategic initiatives.

In conclusion, the SOAR framework offers a positive and aspirational approach to strategic planning, focusing on leveraging strengths to uncover and seize opportunities. As we move forward, let's keep in mind that the journey of strategic planning is ongoing and dynamic. It's about continuously adapting and evolving to meet the needs and aspirations of our communities and organizations.

Thank you for joining us in this episode. I hope it's inspired you to look at your own corner of Aitkin County through the lens of the SOAR framework and to play an active role in our strategic planning process. Stay tuned for our next episode, where we will delve deeper into turning aspirations into tangible results.

bottom of page