Earlier this year I started using the Solutions Focus approach in some of my workshops. Through the generosity of folk on the SF listserve, colleagues here in Australia, and by reading a few books on the subject, I managed to work out ways of incorprating SF into much of my work.
SF is one of many strength-based approaches. Appreciative Inquiry is a well-known strength-based approach which I have also used for many years. I’ve always been a bit ambivalent towards AI though – mainly because I find the language a bit off-putting (especially when working with people who don’t have English as a first language) and while I love the first two phases (Discovery and Dream), the next two (Design and Destiny) have never really worked that well for me. It probably says more about me than the approach, of course.
What I love about SF is its simplicity and adaptability. You can read here how it got me out of trouble in Armenia, and I’ve also used it as a way of convergence in an Open Space Technology meeting. At last week’s Facilitator Conference in Adelaide I learnt yet another way of using SF – as a group coaching tool to help an individual explore options around a particular issue.
Todd Montgomery, who now lives in Sydney is from Canada via London. He demonstrated this approach called Reflective Team Coaching.
1. Presenting: Protagonist outlines a specific request for help with a practice issue. Team listens closely witout interruption.
2. Clarifying: Team asks questions to understand situation more clearly. NB: clarification only, not ‘did you try…?’
3. Affirming: Team members tell protagonist what impresses them the most about how he/she is handling the situation – what talents, skills, attributes, resources are in evidence. Protagonist thanks each person in turn.
4. Reflecting: Team members take it in turns to offer one item at a time of appropriate input (or option to say ‘pass’). Continues with protagonist remaining silent and listening (may take notes of ideas presented). This is known as a ‘virtuous circle’.
5. Closing: Protagonist responds briefly to what’s been said, thanks everyone and (usually) sets a goal/small action based on reflections.
I could immediately think of a number of ways of using this approach.
While in Banff at the Applied Improv Conference, I reconnected with Paul Z Jackson from London. Paul has been at all the improv conferences that I’ve been to and has always been full of ideas and insights – and is prone to asking probing questions! Paul co-authored a book on Solutions-Focus (incidently I knew Paul as an improvisor long before I knew that he was involved with SF). My copy of this book is well thumbed and provides really practical ways of using SF.
Paul and his partner Janine are travelling to New Zealand in January and stopping off in Australia for a few days on their way back to London. Paul has agreed to run a one-day Solutions-Focus workshop in Melbourne on Wednesday 30 January 2008. If you’re interested in attending just click here for the brochure or over there on the left where it says Solutions-Focus Workshop. Or contact me if you want to know more about SF or the workshop.