I have been using the Solutions Focus approach for a few years now in change and restructure work. It’s energising because it focuses on what people can and are already doing. Some or all of the following elements may be useful to consider in your own change processes. “They” refers to the group or organisation experiencing a change – ranging from retrenchment, to restructure to merger.
Current Platform – building an understanding of where they are currently at in relation to the change /merger – what’s solid about the present, that could be used as a foundation/springboard to the future. Participants cover part of the floor or wall with flipcharts that describe the platform from which they can move into the future.
Future perfect – a description of what they will be doing, saying, showing at some point in the future when the change / merger has been successful. Depending on the group’s preferences, we talk about it / draw it / create a storyboard for a 5 minute video of “a day in the life of the successful group”.
Counters – what they are already doing that is similar to the desired future behaviour (these “count” ). Participants to do a self reflection or pairs reflection, listing their personal resources, skills and examples of when the Future Perfect is already happening. The group can capture the information on coloured paper and it can be grouped. If the group is competitive, individuals can try and ‘win’ by scoring the most counters.
Compliments – affirm what is already happening – asking the group to affirm what they see or have seen in others (this provides an interactional view of what counts). Sometimes I ask the group to write secret compliments, other times they give public compliments. Sometimes they compliment individuals and other times they compliment teams / departments. In a competitive group, we give points to both the complimentor as well as the receiver, so they are all encouraged to compliment.
Scales – physical scaling in the room, where each person sees themselves in relation to the future perfect on a scale of 1-10. There can be various ways of framing the scales, depending on the trust in the group.
Small Actions – small steps they each can implement over the forthcoming weeks to move them one point up the scale. I often encourage them to think of secret actions, so there is less pressure to get it right and everyone has a task to notice and secretly compliment others – so it sets everyone’s attention on the behaviours they want to see.
If you want any more information about running such a session for your group, email me. My thanks to my mentors & teachers: Insoo, Peter, Mark, Harry, Svea, Michael, Paul, Janine & Jenny and their great resources – The Solutions Focus (1st & 2nd Editions), Paul Jackson & Mark McKergow, (2002 & 2007), Solutions Focus Working, Mark McKergow & Jenny Clarke (2007), Brief Coaching for Lasting Solutions, Insoo Kim Berg & Peter Szabo, (2005).