Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

As we all know we can use SF in many different contexts. I'm thinking about the underlying SF structure which can be used anywhere - therapy, management, teambuilding, teaching, coaching, leading, etc etc etc. . .
Do people have ideas about what are the underlying key elements of SF as a universal tool applicable to any suitable situation? Suppose we had a list of elements such as looking for strengths, developing a preferred future, scaling . . . what else, and what else? What are the absolutely essential elements which would be universally applicable?

Best wishes, Carole

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Hi Carole,
I guess you already mentioned the important elements. Goals are within the preferred future and small steps are in the scaling. Using the words of the customer may be an important element to make the questions worth to be answered.
What are you missing?

Best wishes, Ingrid
Good question!

I think, that SF is a very good option to deal with complex (= not trivial) systems. But in complcated or even simple (= trivial, calculable, predictable, cause-effect-based) systems it might be less usefull to use "SF interervention methods".

There was a similar discussion in the SOLUTION-List in the thread "Solution Focused Problem Hunting" in Sept 2007. There I posted this:

How useful is it, to "hunt problems"?

Having worked in IT as a project manager for many years I know this quite good: Doing a risk-assessment it is possible to find a lot of negative risks depending on the time to invest for this assessment. And very often I experineced, that afterwards very imortant obstacles arised, which have not be seen as risks before.....

I learned:

Assessing risks is wise and usefull to protect against failures, losses or damages in complicated (= calculable) systems.
The path of an asteroid is calculabel. And a car seen as a machine also is (nearly) calculable. So: it is very unseful to assess risks in such systems and to think about means to reduce / avoide them.

But: trying to assess risks in very complex systems very often misleads to supposed risks wich never will happen... but attract much energy to try ti avoid them in advance.... and make stuck in situations, where "problems" arises which never have been espected...
And IT-projects seen as a "game of social interactions between persons" (see are such very complex systems...

So: I am very careful to distinguish between complicated an complex system befor I start problem hunting.

for more please open: and the previous and following postings in this topic!
Hi Carole

Thanks for joining in here. In 'The Solutions Focus' Paul and I outlined six SIMPLE principles as one way to try to answer this question:

Solutions, not problems
Inbetween (interactional) not individual
Make use of what's there not what isn't
Possibilities - from past, present and future
Language - clear not complicated
Every case is different - beware ill-fitting theory
I do think there is a structure to SF, and that that structure is perhaps even mirrored in brain structure. My version is called the PLUS model, which is an attempt to outline what is in common in all SF approaches I've seen. P stands for platform and involves finding a purpose, defining goals relative the context, establishing ways of working and communicating, etc. L stands for Leap to the Future which means to explore goals as if already happening, often in the future. It involves describing differences, relations, effects of a preferred possibile, often future, state. U stands for Utilize what works, and involves finding the resources that may help us move towards the L: exceptions, previous or present success, resources, etc. S stands for stepping the scale and it involves defining a step in two ways: a small preferred future and the small baby steps that can move towards it. All of the elements in PLUS can be mirrored to brain processes, If you are so inclined. It also matches pretty well how we think about projects or enhance that thinking.

Exactly how the PLUS-structure is realized is very different in therapy/coaching situation compared to a organisational development or a team-building. But the flow or form seems pretty constant over contexts.

So I don't think it is really possible to find elements you can find everywhere, but it might be possible to find the form. My own thinking, like I said, is that I think this structure mirrors a inbuild structure in our brains. This would explain on one hand why so many people seem to intuitively resognize SF and also claim "I already do that" (which we all know isn't often the case, but in some parts of life, people really do it) On the other hand, it could explain the fact that it seems to work almost everywhere: everyone already brings SF into the situation by bringing their neurophysiology. A lot of research and think remains to see if this thinking really is something, or if it just my wishful thinking.

Thank you All,
I like yours reply. I'm focused about intention. (more Intention than intention but it's long to write maybe after)
I think that a very important, which it is under the structure, is to search in intention: the intention that the customer has and that the SF facilitator has.

I think it is the intention to move in the depths. If the intention is more aware the action is more simple and it's easier to achieve the goal.

It is inbetween (like relationship) that the intentions mix together, that the customer finds more strength to occur and manifest himself.
What do you think about?

Carola, I try to answer the question: how can we do to raise awareness of this perspective more focused on solutions?

Not jet the method, which changes from the situation and context, but the idea that it is better to look at solutions. This, in my opinion, make a different qualities in our intentions to favoring the opportunity of expressing solutions. (maybe my English is not perfect but I hope that you touch the sense of my words)
Hi Carole - along with your list ... therapy, management, teambuilding, teaching, coaching, leading, etc etc etc. . . I'd like to add "way of life". I certainly get out of this SF approach as a parent, partner, friend etc!

Central for me is the experience of being aware of strengths. In the culture in which I operate, people's critical muscles tend to be very well developed, whilst their appreciative muscles are, well, flaccid! I am of course interested in their goals for our meetings and for their future life and work. Also I sometimes observe that the repetoire of possibilities is limited for some people (I acknowledge the danger here of judging people's goals as good or not good enough). They are are concerned with the now and find the presence of solution difficult

Increasingly I begin by asking what people are pleased to notice, what their customers value about them and all the questions we ask people to elicit and amplify strengths. My observations are that the "best hopes" and "preferred future" type questions generate a richer set of possibilities.

The former pattern for the first section of a first workshop would have been - A focus on goals and B what's already working well. More lately I have been asking B and really allowing the strengths to emerge. In fact this morning I've been working with a successful sales team in a medium sized motor-parts company. Basically I asked them for their strengths and then sat back and watched them facilitate themselves, wondering if they are going to have me back for the other 3 sessions they have booked....

Thanks Carole






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