How you can spotlight the great to bolster strengths

How to highlight the good to reinforce strengths

December 7, 2020 8 min read

This article has been translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors can occur due to this process.

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.

  • The process of appreciative inquiry invites you to practice the FOAR method, which consists of examining strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results.

In the wide world of human behavior, we know that there is a tendency to see the negative rather than the positive in situations. Our brain processes around 60,000 thoughts every day. Many of them are negative, absurd, or repetitive. More than 90% are repeated and around 80 to 90% are negative, with the consequences that this represents in the reality of that person: negativity, judgments, disappointment, frustration, fear, stagnation, unhappiness.

The psychologist Martin Seligman, promoter of the so-called positive psychology, affirmed in his book “Authentisches Glück” that out of a hundred articles that talk about sadness, only one is published about happiness. A proportion similar to that of the news shown by most of the media.

There is a valuable tool for individuals, as well as for companies and teams, called an appreciative inquiry, which allows one to focus on the contributing aspects of the problems being managed rather than solely focusing on those who are looking for solutions remain.

To be clear: it is not about denying reality and what is lived, but rather giving up on them and highlighting the aspects that contribute to the solution.

From SWOT to FOR

In the business world, the SWOT matrix (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats; also known as SWOT) is often used to analyze different aspects to be solved.

Using a similar model here aimed at improving decision making and human behavior, the appreciative investigation process invites us to practice the FOAR method, which consists of reviewing strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and outcomes.


The appreciative research draws on the input of Professor David Cooperrider of Case Western University in the US and defines them as “the 4Ds” of appreciation: discover, dream, design and plan (deliver). And we can’t change it because the opportunity comes as it is and when it appears; although you have the power to accept or reject it.

Let’s review every aspect of the FOAR matrix:

1. Strengths

It is the starting point for discovering the tools you have. Everything that is already good and contributes to the success of the goal is described in detail. even when it is used to solve challenges.

In order to focus, it is important to use triggers, for example what skills you have, how much you know about yourself or the subject under discussion, which values ​​influence your strengths. and which contributing convictions – which we know as positive – in addition to the question: “How do I know that I have or have a lot of talent?

2 options

This FOAR quadrant looks at openness and changes in internal models in order to expand beyond the known. There are internal possibilities, for example the permission to experience the new, the disposition, the encouragement and the enthusiasm to face your personal and professional improvement process. and also externally, where you learn to recognize everything that the environment offers as opportunities for improvement – for example, taking a course, accessing a contact to solve a situation, a book that triggered lateral thinking that you had not considered.

In this realm of possibility, imagination, creativity and innovation become strategic allies to expand your powers of perception and solve the various problems that previously affected you and today you are sitting on them from new perspectives.

3. Aspirations

Anything you can’t see yet doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future. That is why the FOAR model is based on the world of possibilities.

The possibility arises from inner openness and disposition that good things will happen. Anything that you aspire to, that you dream of, that you discover and that you wish to achieve can find a path to realization through the possibilities you envision, no matter how far they may seem in the moment.

To determine your goals and those of a team, you need to review the strengths and opportunities, and determine the goals that you want to achieve. The triggering questions: What is really important and what inspires me? Where am I going or do we want to go? How do I actually imagine the future? (Create a mental picture like in HD.) What will be the concrete results of these efforts? What emotions will there be?

There is an interesting exercise I would like to suggest: take a positive portrait of yourself, and you can suggest it to your team too: take a picture of your face – and it can be of any member of a team too – and start Write them with a firm hand in different places on this photo. For example, properties related to seeing where you want to go in the eye area; those of communication in the area of ​​the mouth; that of creativity on the forehead; Empathy and listening skills, in the ears, etc. You will associate spaces in your photo with qualities that aid in the appreciative examination. You will be surprised by the result. If you need to develop any of these further, look at the photo for a few moments a day for a few weeks and let your subconscious do the rest.

4. Results

This is the ultimate consequence of the measures you have taken to achieve the goal. It is the concrete effect of a temporally activated event.

In this quadrant of FOAR you define the tangible and measurable indicators of what you want to receive. Achieving the sale of a certain number of units of a product, opening a new business in a certain strategic location, successfully completing a challenge that the person or company may empower, or completing a negotiation are some practical examples and concrete examples .

In order to achieve the results, it is necessary to draw up the action plan, set goals using specific methods, develop the strategy, determine who is responsible and when this point will be reached, and measure the partial progress.

Everyone knows that results cannot be achieved without targeted action, available energy and clarity to activate all that is required. Because just dreaming or imagining it and just having it in a plane of striving without action will not be enough to make it come true.


Discipline, clarity and permanent focus, adjustment of deviations and correction in a positive sense are other indispensable tools to achieve this.

Taking into account the structure of the FOAR model, you can improve the aspects that will help you move forward and create opportunities that the traditional SWOT model may not have considered.

The invitation is to always and permanently observe the positive and contributory aspects in all situations. What if you do this? You will positively modify your mental model and move on to a model that focuses directly on what brings you closer to the results you want to achieve in an overwhelming way, compared to the old pattern of focusing on that what you lack or the obstacles.