Your browser is no longer supported. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

The 7 Tests

Advantaged Thinking is a broad but defined landscape, with 7 concrete ‘tests’ that help to define what success could look like in different contexts.

Making it real

The 7 Tests can help a particular community, organisation or service reflect on how to embed Advantaged Thinking in practice.

They highlight the importance of holding ourselves and our services to account, and are named ‘tests’ to emphasise the ongoing reflection and development they require. They’re not something you simply pass or fail: they exist to offer constant guidance to your Advantaged Thinking practice. They are written as a set of powerful questions to frame your thinking.

Test 1: Talk

Do you always try to use positive language to talk about and describe people, instead of negatives and stereotypes?

Test 1 looks at the way we use language and imagery to identify and define people.

It promotes talking about people in ways that respect their individual humanity and potential. It is relevant to external communications and fundraising, as well as the language and terminology used in everyday practice.

Amplify strengths: Do you talk about strengths with people and amplify the talents and skills of others?

Affirmative language: Do you describe people by what they can do? Do you use affirmative language when you communicate with others?

Disrupt labels: Do you consciously try to disrupt stereotypes about disadvantage?

Test 2: Understand

Do you always try to learn about someone’s strengths and potential above their weaknesses and limits?

Test 2 looks at how we holistically understand people.

This can be in terms of their support needs and challenges, and their abilities, potential and individuality. The test is relevant to impact measurement, evaluation, research and service assessment processes.

Identify strengths: Do you have tools, resources and methods to better understand each other’s strengths?

Storytelling: Encouraging people to take ownership of and share their story in a positive way can help them (and you) to understand their strengths.

Track growth: How do people grow and develop over time? Can you track this positive progress rather than any failures, underperformance or struggles?

Test 3: Work with

When you work with others, do you try to focus on developing solutions and assets instead of just supporting problems and deficits?

Test 3 promotes positive, person-centred working.

The test is relevant to different types of support and development – from HR processes to participant case management and training.

Develop strengths: Do you have a clear way of helping others develop their strengths?

Systems: Do the systems, policies and structures you work with focus on aspiration and strength, encouraging creativity and innovation over aversion to risk?

Collaborate: Do you work with the strengths of others, enabling experts to emerge? Can you form good partnerships to complement your skills and experience?

Person-centred: Do you ‘work with’ rather than ‘doing to’?

Test 4: Invest

Do you allocate your resources on enabling people to thrive, instead of just supporting them to cope?

Test 4 looks at how we invest in people.

This test focuses on how people can progress through periods of surviving and coping towards sustainable, thriving lives. Investing can refer to financial, human, physical, programme and partner resources.

Validate strengths: Do you invest in the strengths of people and then validate that investment? Do you celebrate and recognise development?

Personalise opportunities: Can you adapt your offer to flex to the needs and aspirations of an individual or group?

Embrace risks: Do you enable others to have experiences that provide stretch opportunities and chances to be trusted?

Focus towards thriving: Does you invest in thriving rather than just coping? Do you invest in inspiring – not simply pragmatism?

Test 5: Believe

Do you always hold out an aspiration for someone’s future that is the same you would have for yourself and your family?

Test 5 looks at our aspiration for, and belief in others.

This includes unconditional regard for who people are, a strong belief in what people can achieve with the right opportunities and support, and the determination to trust in people’s potential. The test is relevant to how an organisation expresses a positive vision and values through its communications, HR, quality standards, management and support approaches.

Promote aspirations: Do you promote people’s aspirations to them and anyone outside?

High standards: Do you hold high standards for yourself and your organisation to ensure people get the best offer or service?

Nurture trust: Do you maintain a currency of trust?

Test 6: Involve

Do you always involve the person you are working with to use their experiences to develop their own solutions?

Test 6 looks at how we involve people as active agents.

This includes harnessing individual experiences and insights to shape approaches, collaborating on solutions, listening, demonstrating solidarity and ensuring authenticity and accountability.

Do with: Are you an enabler or a rescuer? Do you build autonomy, ownership and responsibility with people?

Encourage engagement: Do you provide different ways for people to engage and interact with you?

Develop representation: Do the people you work with have power to make decisions on the things that affect their lives?

Actively listening: Do you take every opportunity as a chance to listen to people and make changes accordingly?

Test 7: Challenge

Do you always listen out for and respond to the Advantaged and Disadvantaged Thinking of others?

Test 7 looks at how we challenge ourselves and others to be Advantaged Thinkers.

This could be at a local, community, sector and societal level – challenging others to talk about, understand, work with, invest in, believe in and involve people in a positive, asset-based way. It brings together all the tests of Advantaged Thinking through a focus on shaping change at an individual, system and social level. The test is relevant to advocacy, campaigning and influence work, as well as the ongoing professional and personal development of staff.

Celebrate success: Do you display what Advantaged Thinking is all about both internally and externally?

Mobilise networks: Do you connect with others locally or nationally who campaign or fight for things that matter to people?

Build capacity: Can you build the capacity of your organisation or community to challenge others?

Influence change: Are you passionate about social change? Can you do more to influence it?

Up next: Origins

Ever wondered how Advantaged Thinking first came about?