Use SOAP for Nonprofit Problem-Solving

Have you ever found it difficult to find a solution to a particularly perplexing problem?

Try using S.O.A.P. to identify the corrective action needed.

Curious as to how physicians approach problem-solving, I reached out to brother-in-law and retired MD and surgeon David H. Roberts.

He said doctors utilize a structured process called S.O.A.P. to develop a patient diagnosis. The acronym stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan.

The methodology combines both an objective and subjective approach to information gathering before formulating an assessment and necessary treatment.

The initial step involves getting history that the patient and family can give which are the subjective specifics. A series of questions are asked such as: What is going on? Where is the pain or discomfort located? How long has it been there? and What makes it better or worse?

Objective testing helps further formulate an accurate analysis. This type of activity includes a physical exam, lab work, and incorporates the use of diagnostic tools such as scans and x-rays.

Data obtained from the subjective and objective examinations creates an educated basis for developing an assessment and subsequent action plan.

When you’re struggling for answers to a challenging issue, apply the investigative method that doctors use for determining the best course of action to take.

Generate your own subjective fact-finding procedure with these questions.

  • Who has opinions you can take advantage of?
  • Have others on your staff or board members experienced a similar situation?
  • Do you have peers at other organizations who may have faced comparable circumstances?

To gain objective information consider these sources:

  • Review resources available to you through associations where you or your nonprofit have an affiliation.
  • Examine existing data such as financial reports, donor giving patterns, donor retention, program participation, membership engagement history, and outcome metrics.

After analyzing your collection of facts, formulate your assessment, and conclude your decision-making with a prescription for taking action. Continue to assess the results of your treatment with ongoing evaluation check-ups and make corrections as needed.

Help clean up your problems with S.O.A.P. Working with a structure-based protocol will allow you to develop solutions to challenges with the knowledge you have done so with the best information available.

What are your own techniques for problem-solving that would benefit our nonprofit community?

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