We can take it! When setting up a workshop I am often asked to include a “levelling” session.  “Help us to lay it on the line” I am told, “help us to say it like it is; take off the kid-gloves”.  And of course, we all know that to move forward in our teams, we must haul out peoples’ problems, list them, analyse them and criticise them.  We must dwell on mistakes and weaknesses.  Effectively we need a good explosion to energise the change.


‘We’ are wrong!

Solution-Focussed Conversation is more gentle – and far more effective way to engage members of your teams in delivery

What we talk about, we do. Research shows that talking about a topic builds the relevant neural paths in our brain.  Literally, we entrench the thinking.  The issue becomes more familiar to us.  We are therefore more likely to replay it.  It is far better, it appears, to forget about the problem and spend time thinking and talking about what we really want to do.

Solution-Focused Conversation is far more effective

This is the new thinking about how to address team issues.  The principles in the Solution-Focused Conversation approach sound more like this:

  • The solution does not care about the problem.
  • Our thinking improves in an encouraging, optimistic and constructive context and the best solutions emerge in an atmosphere of unconditional positive regard
  • People have far more potential than they are conscious of.  They have all the resources they need to create effective solutions.  These are most often untapped.
  • People, in touch with their resources, are most likely to manage change well.
  • Effective change happens when we look to the past for strengths and positive experiences.
  • Incremental change cumulates to make big differences.
  • Focussing on possibilities creates an excitement for change that overcomes the fear.

Solution-Focused Conversation thinking aligns with the latest brain research

Past, future, fact, fiction; its all the same to our brain. Well, to some extent.  Past events and desired futures are managed in the same area of the brain.  This is our episodic memory which records times, places, events and associated emotions.  By retelling stories of a desired outcome, we can make it happen.  Solution-Focused Conversation builds bridges between past successes, powerful resources and a desired future.  Developing rich pictures of a desired future is a step towards making it happen.

Leading or coaching from this approach will follow these guidelines:

  • Take people from problems to their resources as soon as possible.
  • Hold back on giving advice.  Allow those being coached to formulate their own solutions.
  • Creative solutions happen when people step out of the thinking in which the problems were created.  Lead them to the place where miracles happen.
  • When we step back to allow miracles, we are freed from the cognitive quagmire of mere feasibility thinking.
  • Appreciation frees the mind to soar.  Give real attention and appreciation.  Approach problems in a positive frame.
  • Embrace the gift of confusion.  Not-knowing is an incredibly powerful source of insights and choice.
  • When solutions present themselves, they may look totally different from what was expected.  When this happens, surf the solution.  Do not resist, rationalise, defend or duck.

In my experience, Solution-Focused Conversation provides an excellent platform for teams to engage in any detailed conversation.

The photo comes from Gary Kapluggin.  Thanks, Gary for allowing me to use this whimsical, somewhat disturbing piece.  Gary has numerous sites on the internet where he presents his work.  These provide an interesting, rewarding ‘wandel-spoor’.  You can begin here.