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Problem Focused Organizations: looking for a solution

I'll shortly publish a book (a somewhat thin affair, but of substance). The theme of the book is that organizations need to rid themselves of problem focus.

Not very solution focused I hear you say. Yes, but the message is for managers in organizations who want an additional tool to help them deal with change, planning etc.

Hence, the 'positioning' around problems. An attention getter!
My opening shot on the theme is in this blog post:
http://sforganization.com/change-management/problem-focused-organiz...

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Comment by Alan Kay on December 7, 2010 at 10:48
Thanks Phil, yes it's a feature of my work that I tell my clients (few of whom are in marketing) that my job is to help them help themselves and get out of their way as quickly as possible. Needless to say, I encourage them to call me next time they are stuck.

I have a client who recently said that after a year of coaching/mentoring (she asked for the mentoring) she would not likely need my services next year. I congratulated her on her move to independence. I’m quite sure she’ll call me sometime in the future when she needs support.

I also have a colleague who works for one of the large consulting firms - she's frustrated that she can't get her colleagues to buy into SF. I made the point that SF is contrary to their interest because their business development model calls for them to constantly point out the dire situation in which their clients find themselves.

I think we SF’rs can take the long view and build trust with clients simply because we do our best not to make them dependent. I have quite a few clients who are my fans (in the form of repeat business) largely because of this.
Comment by Phil Aspden on December 7, 2010 at 10:32
Alan
Very interested about this, whenever we have a marketing discussion we come back to the [perhaps regrettable] fact that organisations pay to have problems solved. If there is no problem there is no perceived need to spend money - making something 'even better' rarely appeals. The positioning of your book is the necessary positioning of the SF practitioner who needs to earn a living
Comment by Paolo Terni on November 14, 2010 at 18:49
Good job!
Comment by Hans-Peter Korn on November 14, 2010 at 13:05
Hi Alan, working since a couple of months as a "Scrum Master" and doing some "Agile Coaching" in one of the big telecom-companies in Germany I am very aware of this "Problem Focus".
In "Agile Management" of projects, which has lot of overlapping with the Solution Focused Approach - projects are seen as complex systems and therefore cannot be done straight ahead based on a long term detailed planning. Instead of this the organisational unit of this company (about 11 project teams), where I am working, is doing "Scrum".

And, at they same time, still a lot of "beliefs" and "methods", which are useful for complicated technical issues, are seen as appropriate for those complex projects also. Examples:

"We have to find out and remove IMPEDIMENTS to become better"

"We have to do in depth ROOT-CAUSE ANALYSES of the problems to find the real root causes to fix them"

"We have to ask 5 TIMES WHY"

"We have to ask: "What is BLOCKING you?" to remove the blockers"

All those questions are appropriate for simple and complicated systems like computer-hardware and -software, but not for complex ones.
I like it, as you make this important difference between "complicated" and "complex" clear in your blog. For me this is "THE" background to see, where "problem focus" and "solution focus" is appropriate.

That means: BOTH are appropriate - but nor for all situations.

In my recent role as "Scrum Master" and "Agile Coach" step by step I apply instead of this "problem focus" Solution Focused Approaches in complex situations like "teamwork" (which is a complex adaptive social system) - without calling them "SF". I just do it. And it works well. And I point on it explicitly every time, when it works well.
(Calling it "SF" still leads to un-useful irritations like "again such a psychological woodoo")

Doing it this way I observed some changes and reactions like:

Instead of an "impediment board" there is a "teamwork taskboard" where different tasks to enhance teamwork are shown on a scale (0 - 10) and nearly each day even small changes are made visible and it is shared, what is the specific change and how this comes.

The team members more often work together in pairs and communicate directly in small groups to discuss specific questions.

The team appreciates more and more what results could be done - and not focus only on those things which couldn't be done

Maybe small changes only ..... but IMHO very important changes...

How can I order your book asap?

Cheers, Hans-Peter

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