The S5 Model provides a structure for arriving at a decision through critical reflection.

Critical reflection occurs when people think, talk, read, and write about issues important to them.

FAST critical reflection involves Formulating and Analyzing issues, Synthesizing insights, and Translating the insights into action.

Each step produces a corresponding document and can be further structured using other methods. The SLCT (“select”) process can be used to formulate issues early in critical reflection; while the SCOPED process can be used for analysis; and the S5 model can be used for synthesizing insights.

Specifically, the S5 model results in insights underwriting a strategy, or coherent set of linked choices.

Jeff Belkora developed S5 in the context of helping people make medical decisions. The model also applies to choices in other domains, such as personal and professional decisions.

S5 refers to five forces that drive our decisions.

  1. Somatic is the body, the automated limbic or emotional responses we all have. Fight, flight or freeze is a good example of a somatic response to a threat. Heightened heart rate may accompany an opportunity. Somatically, you follow your gut.
  2. Social refers to how we may be influenced, either consciously or subconsciously, by people around us and the overall environment.
  3. Spiritual refers to how we may look to a higher power, such as a religious deity or leader, for guidance.
  4. Soulful refers to how we may look inside ourselves for guidance – to our self-image, or identity.
  5. Scientific refers to how we may use data or conscious deliberation to arrive at a decision.

Each of these sources will influence people’s decisions and actions.

Being aware of these sources can help people communicate about them to arrive at clear, confident, and consensus-based decisions – or to surface necessary conflict.

The S5 model can be used to stimulate perspective-taking and arrive at insights and decisions that are responsive to all five decision drivers.