If you’re facing a challenge such as moving your organisation forward, performance management or creating change, the standard response is to focus on what’s not working. Unfortunately, this just slows you down and can even make matters worse.
There’s lots of evidence to show that looking for the cause of complex problems doesn’t lead directly to solutions. Especially when there are numerous factors you can’t predict or control.
I take an approach called Solutions Focus. It’s based on the belief that the best way to solve complex problems isn’t by analysing them.
This changes everything.
A paradigm shift in problem solving
Rather than focusing on problems, or asking you to envision your future from the present, I take you to a future where your problems have become irrelevant. You look at how everything’s working and can describe your preferred future in a way that’s both detailed and achievable.
It helps you maximise what’s already working well for you and means you won’t waste time analysing what isn’t. You’ll know how to move forward, and can get on with the future without being pulled back by the past.
It sounds simple, and it is. But like many things that appear simple there’s a great skill to doing it successfully – only by asking you the right questions can I help you find the right answers.
Working out what’s preventing you achieving your goals. It slows you down.
Reviewing or reporting on what isn’t working. It wastes money.
Analysing why staff are getting it wrong. It makes them defensive.
Labouring over highly detailed plans. It wastes time.
Using consultants for advice or grand schemes. It’s distracting and can cause resistance.
Applying the expertise you already have, and working small – from the perspective of a problem-free future – can be just as powerful and more effective.
Concrete results, again and again
I’ve been working with a Solutions Focus since 2002. As an organisational psychologist I’m geared to look for evidence and question assumptions rather than following fads. I’ve repeatedly seen the powerful effect this approach has on individual and organisational agility, creativity, optimism, motivation and productivity.
It makes change, progress and performance improvement so much simpler, easier and more doable.
Jeremy Bloom – Network Planning Director, Highways England
“Using this approach, we discovered that there was a lot we thought we could do, which we hadn’t expected, and we acted on it. With five sessions in a year, the division took on 20 new projects in 18 months, a 200% increase, with only a 15% increase in staff. The annual people survey’s engagement score was boosted by 20%”
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