In the beginning of the eighties, the Solution-Focused Model was designed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg for use in the world of psychotherapy. This SFT-model rapidly became one of the leading models. In this article, Cauffman and Berg describe how they use the Solution-Focused approach when working in a business environment.
The Problem-Oriented Manager Asks: “What Is Going Wrong? What Doesn’t Work ?”
The Solution-Focused Manager Asks: “What does go well? What Does Work ?”
Brief Theory of the Solution-Focused Management Model:
1. If something does not work, do something else.
2. If something works, do more of it.
Questions shape the answers you get therefore asking the right questions helps you to set the correct tone and build further solutions. People usually ask questions to receive information. However, Solution-Focused Coaches go further. The Solution-Focused Coach asks questions to help staff to evaluate their own perspective on the problems and to direct the conversation toward solutions. Therefore the questions you ask are the beginning of the shaping of solutions. Asking questions is a more collaborative way of having a conversation than constantly taking the lead is.
When you follow up on those answers with even more Solution-Building questions, you will notice that you and your staff are building solutions together. The following list outlines some basic Solution-Building questions that you can alter and build upon in your own original, creative ways. When you will read the section on the Eight Step Dance, you will see that these questions fit in with a specific ‘Step’. After reading the whole article, you can experiment with these tools and get a feeling for ‘the Power of Words’.
- What should we discuss in this meeting so that this conversation will be useful ? (Goal setting)
- How will you know that the problem is solved? How will you notice this ? What would you do differently then ? (Future orientation)
- What would be the smallest step you could take to solve this problem ? (Making big goals more workable)
- How would the other departments notice that you are making progress ? What would your boss say you would be doing differently if things improved ? (Expanding the possible solutions into the system)
- What else do you have to tell me so that I can see this situation even more correctly ? (Eliciting cooperation from the client)
- Have you ever solved similar problems ? How did you solve them on that occasion? Who helped you? How did he or she help you ? (using exceptions and resources)
- Are there moments in which the problem is less intense? What is different then? (Adding nuances instead of black-white opposition)
- Has something changed since you scheduled this meeting about the conflicts concerning the project ? (Eliciting signs of spontaneous ‘pre-session’ changes)
- Now that you have achieved that, what is the next small step you could take? (Success builds/breeds on success)
- Imagine that this problem is solved. What will be different then? What will you do differently ? What will your colleagues do differently ? What will the management do differently ? (Future orientation by visualizing a future in which the current problems are solved)