Appreciation (Situational)

Understanding the Full Implications of a Fact


Squeeze out as much information as you can, by appreciating the situation accurately.

© iStockphoto/only_fabrizio

A few months ago, Josh found out that a competitor was opening a new office in the same city as his organization.

He went over the implications of this, but even after he'd covered all of the bases, he still felt that he was missing something important.

Now, he has discovered that this competitor is headhunting his best managers.

And he doesn't have a plan in place to do anything about it.

Does this sound familiar?

Sometimes we're given a piece of information that seems straightforward, only to find out later that more was going on than we thought. As a result, we're then unprepared to deal with the consequences.

One way to deal with these situations is by using Appreciation. This is a simple but powerful technique for extracting the maximum amount of information possible from a simple fact or statement.

About Appreciation

Appreciation helps us uncover factors that we might have ordinarily missed, and it can be very useful for brainstorming   solutions to problems.

It was originally developed by the military to help commanders gain a comprehensive understanding of any fact, problem or situation that it was faced with in battle. However, you can also apply it in the workplace.

Using Appreciation is easy. Starting with a fact, you first ask the question "So what?" – in other words, what are the implications of that fact? Why is this fact important?

You then continue asking that question until you have drawn all possible conclusions from it.


Appreciation is similar to the 5 Whys   technique. The major difference is that it is often used to get the most information out of a simple fact or statement, while the 5 Whys is specifically designed to drill down to the root of a problem.

You can also use Appreciation in conjunction with Root Cause Analysis   or Cause and Effect Analysis   to help you gain a better understanding of the impact of possible solutions.


Bear in mind that Appreciation can restrict you to one line of thinking. For instance, once you've answered your first "So what?" question, you might follow a single line of inquiry to its conclusion. To avoid this, repeat the Appreciation process several times over to make sure that you've covered all bases.

Appreciation Example

You've just found out that your department's budget is going to be cut by 25 percent next year.

This is a huge cut, and you want to make sure that you've uncovered all the implications before you start to brainstorm possible solutions.

So, you use the Appreciation Process, as follows:

Statement: Our department's budget is going to be cut 25 percent starting January 1.

So what?

So the only way to accommodate that cut is to reduce our spending dramatically.

So what?

So we're probably going to have to cut staff, and we'll definitely have to cut spending on supplies, research, and staff parties.

So what?

So staff morale is probably going to drop, especially if I have to lay off members of our team.

So what?

So I'll need to come up with plenty of low-cost ways to boost morale without spending money.

So what?

So I'll need to start thinking about this tomorrow, since the new budget will go into effect in two months, and I want to be able to manage the consequences when I let the team know.

Key Points

Appreciation was originally developed by the military to give leaders a better understanding of a fact, statement or problem that they were faced with.

You use Appreciation by asking "So what?" repeatedly. This helps you to extract all important information implied by a fact.

Consider using other problem solving techniques with Appreciation, to make sure that you're not limited to one line of thinking.


If you'd like to gain an in-depth understanding of your current problem solving skills, take our How Good Is Your Problem Solving?   quiz. You might also want to go through our Bite-Sized Training Session on Problem Solving.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Click here for more, subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just $1.

Add this article to My Learning Plan

Where to go from here:

Join the Mind Tools Club

Click to join Mind Tools
Printer-friendly version
Return to the top of the page

Create a Login to Save Your Learning Plan

This ensures that you don’t lose your plan.

Connect with…

Or create a Mind Tools login. Existing user? Log in here.
Log in with your existing Mind Tools details
Lost Username or Password
You are now logged in…

Lost username or password?

Please enter your username or email address and we'll send you a reminder.

Thank You!

Your log in details have been sent to the email account you registered with. Please check your email to reset your login details.

Create a Mind Tools Login
Your plan has been created.

While you're here, subscribe to our FREE newsletter?

Learn a new career skill every week, and get our Personal Development Plan workbook (worth $19.99) when you subscribe.

Thank You!

Please check your Inbox, and click on the link in the email from us. We can then send you the newsletter.