You can focus on the problems you have. Or you can focus on the solutions. As big ideas go, they don’t get much simpler than solution focus. It’s simply a binary choice to focus on the future, rather than the past.
Solution focus has its origins in Solution Focused Brief Therapy. But therapy isn’t what we specialize in here at Management Pocketbooks. So, instead, we’ll turn our attention to what managers can learn from the ideas, and put to use in solution-focused problem solving and coaching.
Working life can be tough. So, perhaps your greatest asset is your ability to cope with the challenges and bounce back from adversity. And we have a name for that skillset: resilience.
We could argue that it’s a worrying sign of the times, that we need this talent, that we have a name for it, and that organisations need to train us in it. But the truth is that, like other Big Ideas, resilience is neither new nor more important than it was before. We’ve just got more aware of it.
Regular readers will know that I am a sucker for acronyms – although I don’t always love them. This one, I particularly like, and it comes from the heart of a change management and coaching process, called Solution Focus.
What the authors, Paul Z Jackson and Mark McKergow, offer is a change of focus from the problem to the solution. A nice shift in perspective and one that chimes well with another interesting change management methodology, Appreciative Inquiry (AI).
The acronym encompasses the authors’ attitudes nicely:
– not problems
– the interaction between people is where to look
Make use of what’s there
– very much the AI approach
– look in the past, present and future
– keep it simple (and ‘clean’?)
Every case is different
– so don’t try stock solutions
The Solution Focus
In an exceptional book, the authors take us through a set of tools that will help you move from the present towards a future you design following these six principles. Another feature of the book is its introduction of the authors’ own coaching model, OSKAR Model. This makes a feature of the importance of getting a perspective on the scale of the problem, which the GROW and its many variants do not explicitly include (although Sir John Whitmore certainly uses the principle. Oskar was one of my ‘infinite number of coaching acronyms’ in an earlier blog.
So here’s the deal
If you are interested in either coaching or the management of change, and you are not familiar with The Solution Focus, it is a worthwhile read. The authors offer a distinctive and insightful take on the change process at a personal and group level.