Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your patience. Here is a first draft produced by Kirsten, Ingrid and me. I will paste it here and also attach the same thing as a word.doc.

SF Clues

How do we NOTICE that a piece of work is using the SF approach?

First draft by Kirsten Dierolf, Ingrid Reisch, Mark McKergow

This document is a starting point to be used in developing the SFCT reviewing process. We wish to open a wide discussion about the many different ways of noticing that someone is using the SF approach, and comments and additions are both sought and welcomed.

Readers will note that this is not, and does not seek or claim to be, a complete description of what SF is or is not. We seek a kind of ‘family resemblance’, with traits that might be visible signs of an SF approach. This is a list of ways that we might notice the SF approach in action. Of course, not all of these needs to be present, but these are all signs that might be noted.

Background / bigger picture

• Reference to Insoo Kim Berg, Steve de Shazer and colleagues, and possibly wider environment / history – e.g. Milton Erickson, MRI etc. Clear honouring of these roots. (Claims that it was created or is ‘owned’ by any individual are therefore clear signs that what is being done is something else.)
• The basic unit of our work is a person and their interactions with others. (A person is taken in the sense defined by Rom Harré “the embodied, publicly identifiable and individuatable and unanalysable being around which the human form of life revolves” -- “a point on an experienced trajectory in space and time”). Much of the work would therefore be in ‘person’ grammar (as opposed to molecular grammar or spiritual grammer or whatever).

Basic position of the practitioner

• Change is happening all the time – our role is to find useful change and amplify it
• Taking an interactional view (inbetween not “inside” a person)
• Resource orientation rather then deficit orientation
• Taking a ‘not knowing’ stance: having as few assumptions about the customer as possible, and the customer is the expert on their own lives and desires
• Taking a respectful, non-blaming and co-operative stance
• Working towards their customer’s goals from within their customers’ frames of reference, while keeping their own (external) perspective
• Treating each case as different and develop the process according to the customers rather than their possible fit into a theoretical or conceptual framework (e.g. “diagnosing the customer system from outside”) – therefore the process emerges differently each time based on what the customers say/do/want, to fit the situation

Tools / “What it tends to look like”

Remember, this is not a check-list – not all of these need to be observed.

• Building the conversation on the basis of the customer’s language, metaphors, stories and behaviour
• Using simple, concrete language, “staying at the surface”, avoiding mentalistic language in favour of interactional language
• Promoting descriptions in specific, small, interactional and positive (presence of solutions rather than absence of problems, start of something new rather than stopping something) terms
• Seeking useful change and positive difference in all phases of the process, from before the first session, between sessions and afterwards
• Helping the customers build a description of their own “preferred future” using the miracle question and other “future perfect” oriented questions
• Establishing elements of the “preferred future” which are already happening using scaling questions, exception questions, coping questions, counters questions and other methods
• Identifying and commenting on users’ resources, offering compliments and tasks appropriately
• Seeking and amplifying instances of useful change and/or positive difference between sessions in ways which build the customer’s role, agency, efficacy and choice in participating in such change
• Helping the customer identify and take small constructive steps in the direction of the desired change
• Working from question to question, from instance to instance (“I don’t know what question I asked until I hear what the customer answers”). The practitioner’s next actions depend on the last helpful answers of the customer.

Views: 223


Replies to This Discussion

Hi All,

I'm struggling to find anything to add to this list - it does seem very comprehensive. A few thoughts though:

* One important aspect of sf that is only there implicitly is the "establishing that the customer is indeed a 'customer for change' and is seeking concrete actions they can take to move towards their preferred future."

* I notice is a presupposition here of a practitioner and customer relationship, taking place in a number of "sessions". One area not covered is where the practitioner of solutions focus is also a participant - for example a manager doing a performance review, negotiating a contract or deciding that in a particular case they themselves are the customer for change.

* How about training? What are the clues that a trainer is training using solutions focused methods, as opposed to merely training others to do so?

What is the difference between this discussion here and this already existing dicusson:
Draft SF Manifesto in Karlstad Group including the Attachment DRAFT SF Manifesto.doc?
Hi Kirsten, Ingrid, Mark,

maybe I'm totally wrong - but isn't it so that the first and last reason for Steve's innovation (as is was for Milton H. Erickson or Paul Watzlawick) was to be curious for everything, that helps their clients to reach their goals?

What you are doing (and you are doing it obviously very well!) is - in my point of view - to describe the end of a process, not the beginning. If you focus on the end, you will maybe get lots of "certified" followers - but this will not automatically produce more innovation or new discoverys in the way Steve or Paul Watzlawick produced.

Using a metaphor: It's like following Columbus again and again on his "right" way from Europe to the New World - but this is different from starting with the aim to find other new worlds! What do you think, on which ship Steve would like to be if he'd have a choice?

Let me give you one example: You wrote: "... having as few assumptions about the customer as possible ..." which sounds to me like: "If you want to find America, sail constantly away from Africa". What if someone discoveres for example that having a few basic assumptions about the customer is more helpful than not having them? Would you be open to such an innovation or not? I tried this (the psychographie-typology) since 1997 in combination with the SF-tools and found it very useful - for me and for my clients! Does this mean, that I am not working according to the SF-rules?

Why not keeping it simpler, saying: Everything that helps in a way the client wants, is SF - and then be very curious and open-minded?

I absolutely love this response, Werner! Thank you :)

Best wishes,





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