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Creativity Techniques
SWOT Analysis

The SODA (Strategic Options Development and Analysis) was developed in the late 80's. In summary it is a methodology for helping someone understand the various viewpoints of a problem area. Whilst the detail of any projects is tailored to the specific problem, the general steps are;

  1. Planning meetings: Where the project is set up and an initial view of the problem / situation is achieved. At this point it is important to decide who the participants will be and what the outputs will be in order to manage expectations.
  2. Client interviews: Here the key people involved with the issue are interviewed, in a relaxed format, for an hour or so to obtain their individual views of the problem area / situation.
  3. Development of causal maps: Causal mapping is used to get depict the interviewee’s perception of the situation.
  4. Check-back interviews: To check with the interviewees that the causal maps have correctly interpreted their views. If not, they are modified until they are a true representation.
  5. Merging the maps: The individual maps are combined to form a single map.
  6. Presentation: Both the individual and combined maps are presented to the participants, and the merged map is worked on until everyone finds it acceptable. This is best done on a computer with projector, or using several computers and appropriate software. This allows the whole group to understand all the viewpoints and to have ownership of the final map.
  7. Interpret the map in terms of goals, strategies and tactics: The completed, agreed, map can be used to determine the;
    • High level goals – these are usually where the causal arrow-heads that emerge from the map but don’t go any further.
    • Medium level strategies - these are generally the factors that feed in more or less directly to the goals.
    • Low level tactics and operational targets - these are typically the activities that feed into the medium level strategies. They are often located at where causal arrows tend to come in from the wider environment.
  8. Action selection, allocation and implementation: Now that the goals, strategies and targets have been determined, these need to be allocated to people for implementation