SOQ: situational outlook questionnaire

A tool to develop the climate for
innovation and change


target action to


Clients often look for culture change as a way to accelerate growth

But culture is deep-seated – based in values, traditions, and beliefs that are typically slow to change.

If your clients are looking for culture change, start with climate.

Climate is the experience of daily life: those patterns of behavior in the work environment that impact how people use their creativity to drive innovation and change. It is quicker and easier to change patterns of behavior than the deep-seated values and beliefs of work culture.

The SOQ assesses nine patterns of behavior associated with a climate for creativity, innovation, and change.

Multiple research studies have confirmed a direct link between the deliberate development of an organization’s climate, and its ability to change and grow.

The SOQ will help your clients analyze their current climate, target opportunities at the team and organization level, and identify specific actions to develop the climate they need. It takes just 15-20 minutes to complete, and the results can transform your clients’ ability to create sustainable change.

SOQ identifies nine behavior patterns

The degree to which people are involved in daily operations, long term goals, and visions 


Independence in behavior exerted by people in the organization 


Emotional safety in relationships 


The amount of time people can, and do, use for elaborating new ideas 


Spontaneity and ease displayed in the workplace 


The way new ideas are treated 


The presence of personal and emotional tensions 


The occurrence of encounters and disagreements between viewpoints, ideas, differing experiences, and knowledge 


Tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity exposed in the workplace 

Look inside

Check out sample pages from our SOQ reports.

Why become an SOQ practitioner?

The strong research basis for the SOQ, and the scope and depth of the data, helps surface real issues that can be addressed. As a consultant, I find that being able to interpret the results, share that information with key leaders, and facilitate them in the development of an action plan to address the targets, results in a deeper and lasting relationship that often leads to further business.

Director, Bluegreen Learning Ltd

I like the way the nine dimensions and open-ended questions provide a more robust view of the organization’s climate than a typical engagement survey, As such, the SOQ results in more useful dialogue with clients. Those dialogues often unearth areas of needs that allow my consultants to identify ways they can help clients achieve their organizational goals. They can also see how the different dimensions play off each other to drive performance. Often, engagement surveys don’t provide enough data for actionable insights.

Education Executive and Founder, City Gate, LLC

How practitioners facilitate change with the SOQ

From a significant loss to a profit and a worldwide innovation award

Following a merger, the new general manager of the US division of an electric utility needed to stem $8 million in losses and make it profitable, quickly. He believed innovation would be key, and to target the kind of change and innovation he would need to make, he turned to the SOQ. Results showed that the division had healthy levels of Debate, but low scores on Challenge & Involvement, Playfulness & Humor and Conflict were consistent with qualitative impressions that the division was conflict-driven, uncommitted to producing results, and that people were generally despondent.

It was clear to the management team that they needed to create a warmer, more embracing, and communicative climate – the kind of climate that causes innovation to happen. Based on this, they implemented a plan for short-term climate change, introducing all-employee meetings, sharing quarterly performance reviews, developing a monthly recognition program based on peer nomination, and engaging employees in the crafting and review of strategy, as a way to build more ownership. They relaxed dress code and adopted flexible working hours. They coached managers on the new expected behaviors. Their stated goal was to create an ‘unstoppable bubble of excellence’.

A second climate assessment, one year later, showed significant improvement in all targeted areas and more. Within 18 months the division showed a $7million turnaround, and subsequently, turned a profit. And that same year, the division won a worldwide innovation award.

Improving adaptability, speed, and response in product development

A children’s publishing company, preparing to make major investments in its growth post-pandemic, employed the SOQ to assess its readiness for change, and figure out where and how best to develop the climate to support that change. A challenge emerged in the Product Development team, whose members were feeling the pressure of quickly evolving demands in response to changes in the industry and consumer worlds. The SOQ revealed significant opportunities to improve climate in the areas of Freedom and Risk-taking – supported by narrative comments and leadership observations that highlighted:

  • frustration that asks were unpredictable and that it wasn’t clear how they fit into existing priorities
  • the team not knowing what to do when work needed to begin before all project details were finalized, leaving them unsure what to do when new challenges arose – creating internal spin and preventing them from taking risks or making progress
  • a sense that teams believed they did not have what they needed to make decisions and had to wait for instruction or permission – often exacerbated because the SVP was located remotely from the product development hub
  • unproductive emotional responses to change that were causing tension and stress

The SVP decided to tackle this head on, by pulling together all fifty team members – editors, designers and production staff – in a one-day facilitated retreat, designed to create more freedom for the team, build the leadership quality of adaptability, and have the team embrace their responsibility to make decisions and take action.

In preparation, everyone completed the VIEW assessment of problem-solving style. During the morning of the offsite, the debrief helped to build an understanding of individual preferences for change, and natural tensions that underpinned some of the team’s stressful interactions in pressure situations. This in itself produced several a-ha moments, building an appreciation and respect for each other’s approaches that helped lower emotional temperatures, and helped the team work better together to flex to business needs.

In the afternoon, the team unpacked their SOQ climate results, and worked through the challenge of “what to do, when we don’t know what to do” – how to respond productively, rather than react negatively. Working in small groups, the team drafted process plans for common requests or “change scenarios”, and gave feedback to other teams to help develop and strengthen those plans. As a result, they created and agreed on six action plans to be employed whenever an unexpected request came in – without having to wait, ask permission, or struggle with knowing what to do.

The very next week, the SVP sent this note:

“You’ll be interested to hear that a new request arrived on the doorstep the Monday morning right after the retreat. The team had to pull together a 16 page mini-magazine in essentially three days, for a project for the CEO. Everyone leaned in, and we all agreed that the benefits of the Change Scenario work made a big difference in our ability to get the work done – or, perhaps more accurately, in getting the work done with all-around good cheer, collaboration, and shared sense of purpose. Including noting where we might improve processes going forward.”

Since the retreat, the model of figuring out “what to do, when we don’t know what to do” has been further refined in Product Development, and is also being embraced by other functions in the organization.

SOQ certification overview

The SOQ certification course is four days, virtual, instructor-led and highly interactive. By the end you will have everything you need to market the SOQ, administer the assessment, analyze the results, and deliver actionable recommendations to your clients.

You will be able to:

ADMINISTER the SOQ assessment

DEBRIEF THE RESULTS, and their implications for the organization

deliver an effective, interactive WORK CLIMATE DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP  

SHOW THE VALUE  of the SOQ tool and its results to current and prospective clients

Certification options

SOQ: situational outlook questionnaire

A tool to develop the climate for innovation and change



4-day live virtual training

PLUS: 1 hour of 1:1 coaching prior to your first workshop

Access to SOQ assessments

Personalized customer service from start to finish

Workshop starter kit – Everything you need to conduct a successful SOQ workshop:

  • Workshop design
  • Powerpoint slides
  • Activities
  • SOQ interpretation guides
  • SOQ administration checklist

Sales and marketing materials to help you show your clients the value of SOQ

Exclusive access to the SOQ practitioner pesource library

Membership in the Better Change Tools Community

SOQ & VIEW bundle

Double the power to elevate your consulting practice and deliver real, sustainable change.


(save $1500)
discount applied at checkout


VIEW 3-day live virtual training

SOQ 4-day live virtual training PLUS 1 hour of 1:1 coaching prior to your first workshop

PLUS access to both VIEW & SOQ:

  • Access to SOQ & VIEW sssessments
  • Workshop starter kits
  • Sales & marketing materials
  • Membership to Better Change Tools community

Want to find out more about the power of preference?

5 Things Your Clients Need to Know About People and Change