SOQ - Situational Outlook Questionnaire

What is Climate?

The work environment of any organization includes many factors including culture and climate.  Culture is deep and hard to change.  Climate is the patterns of behavior that characterize life in the organization - what people experience day-to-day.  Climate is more changeable than culture.

Why is Climate Important?

Climate plays a key role in determining the outlook or likelihood of innovation, creativity, or change taking place in a particular situation. Climate is vital to the success of an organization. Dr. Göran Ekvall, a renowned climate researcher, once said,

"Climate affects organizational and psychological processes such as communication, problem solving, decision making, conflict handling, learning and motivation, and thus exerts influence on the efficiency and productivity of the organization, on its ability to innovate, and on the job satisfaction and the well-being that its members can enjoy."

Why Consider Climate?

  • Climate is a key capability for innovation and growth. Research and practical experience show that those organizations that perform better on numerous innovation and growth metrics deliberately manage their working climates.
  • Climate is a key factor in helping organizations manage change. The evidence is clear – those organizations and teams with healthier climates can handle more complex work designs, have more productive teams, and higher levels of flexibility. As a result, they also improved their bottom-line results, have shorter times to market, and higher levels of profitability.
  • Climate is a key factor promoting improved business performance. Businesses that have leaders and managers who deliberately focus on creating a climate that engages its workforce have higher rates of profitability (increased revenue, stock price, and net income), productivity, and customer loyalty.
  • Climate is key to well-being in the workplace. Healthier working climates have been linked to increased levels of job satisfaction, lower rates of employee turnover, decreased stress in the workplace, and increased feelings and attitudes of contentment and enthusiasm.

About the SOQ

The SOQ assesses the work environment. As a multi-method measure, it utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods to yield powerful results. The SOQ assesses the climate for change within an organization utilizing a nine dimension model.  The open-ended questions allow for the identification of themes that help, hinder as well as identify actions to be taken to improve the work environment. 

The measure has been used by hundreds of organizations many of which are in the Fortune 500.

Over 50 years of extensive research, development, and testing occurred to make the SOQ what it is today. The SOQ is a reliable, valid and useful measure built upon a solid foundation. It is based on the early works of Dr. Göran Ekvall.


9 Dimensions measured by the SOQ

The Situational Outlook Questionnaire® (SOQ) is a two-part questionnaire that measures people’s perceptions of the climate for creativity, innovation, and change within their immediate work environment. The SOQ assesses nine dimensions using 53 questions and includes open-ended questions to provide more meaningful information on what is working, what is not, and what needs to be done to make the climate better.

  1. Challenge and Involvement
    The degree to which people are involved in daily operations, long-term goals, & visions
  3. Freedom
    The independence in behavior exerted by people in the organization
  5. Trust/Openness
    The emotional safety in relationships
  7. Idea-Time
    The amount of time people can (and do) use for elaborating new ideas
  9. Playfulness/Humor
    The spontaneity and ease displayed within the workplace
  11. Conflict
    The presence of personal and emotional tensions in the organization
  13. Idea-Support
    The ways in which new ideas are treated
  15. Debate
    The occurrence of encounters and disagreements between viewpoints, ideas, differing experiences and knowledge
  17. Risk-Taking
    The tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity exposed in the workplace

SOQ Normative Benchmarks

Multiple studies have shown the power of the SOQ to differentiate productive vs non-productive work environments.  These studies provide over 18 sets of benchmarks providing multiple data points to compare your organizations results.  One of the earliest benchmarking studies showed the differences between innovative and stagnated organizations. 

As you can see from the results innovative organization's score higher on the eight positive dimensions and lower on the one negative dimension which is conflict.