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Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

The most important thing you need to know if your workshop isn’t working. What to do when you are facilitating or training with an SF approach.

Report of group discussion at SOL summer retreat, Switzerland.


We shared stories of times it was not going so well – from trainings that went slightly off track to open rebellions from individuals or from the whole group.

The SF principle is, of course, ‘If it doesn’t work, do something different’. OK, but what? In radical moments, it may take radical difference, and we can call on the improvisation idea of being happy to throw it away. (http://appliedimprov.ning.com).

Clear the decks. Go right back to the platform-building stage of asking the participants what do they need to make it useful – even if you asked that (or thought you did) earlier in the process.

Stop doing, start asking. Let’s assume (and check) that everyone has a good reason for being here.

It can be difficult to do because it means throwing away your own plans, your own preparation, your own agenda. Even so, it may be that the ‘new’ design still draws on the resource of the old design – perhaps only a slight shift in emphasis, in whose programme it is, is all that’s needed.

We are all consenting adults, and on that basis we can invite people to apply the Open Space law of Two Feet. Those who want to stay will do so.

At an extreme, you can remind them you are doing your best, and the chances are that you aren’t going to get any better... so if we all have better things to do, let’s all go and do them. This often proves a turning point.

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Comment by Elta Boshard on August 20, 2010 at 14:00
Paul, thanks for sharing -- very useful and thought-provoking. When I read the reminder of the Law of two feet it struck me is how I sometimes forget to use my own "Stop. Drop. Breathe" reminder. IOW stop doing what worked

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