An important theme running through all of HCA’s work has been a commitment to understanding and acting upon client needs through a strategic rather than operational research approach. HCA research consultancy outcomes invariably provide a platform for change. That is, HCA’s consultancy work fits neatly within a strategic planning or continuous improvement framework; a simple summary of this approach from the many references in the literature is provided in the diagram below.
Within this framework, HCA has concentrated on providing the vision and reviewing components of the framework. Put more simply, HCA has become most valuable in establishing the need for and direction of change and in evaluating and reviewing the outcomes of attempted change.
For almost 30 years HCA’s research to establish optimal vision and review change efforts has been motivated largely to solve problems. While this will continue to be a strong rationale for HCA’s efforts in improving services, programs and organisations, an increasing focus developed with HCA’s alliance partners will be on working with organisations to initiate change within a positive psychology model.
A ‘positive psychology’ approach emphasises the strengths of groups, organisations, communities to find pathways forward. It eschews the identification and solving of ‘problems’ as a mode of inquiry in all contexts as one that can deliver the best results, and instead promotes ‘appreciative’ inquiry to build a case for change that is more compelling and sustainable. In the words of Trosten-Bloom and Whitney, HCA hopes to change “…the internal dialogue (of organisations) from problem-oriented, deficit discourse, to possibility-oriented, appreciative discourse”. A summary of this consultancy research approach is provided in the diagram below.