||The SOLUTION FOCUSED APPROACH
While studying the works of Dr Milton Erickson,
psychotherapist Steve de Shazer together with his wife,
Insoo Kim Berg, noted a peculiar pattern in Erickson’s
method. This was Erickson’s disinclination to dwell on
the patient’s presenting problem. Instead, once he was
told of the problem, Erickson would ask about the
patient’s hobbies, passion and what he had done well in
life. Based on what the patient had told him, Erickson
would then tailor a treatment which might involved the
patient talking a walk in the botanic gardens to look at
the different species of flowers or climbing a hill or
some other “unrelated” assignments. And, presto, the
problem was soon gone!
This method was very unlike psychoanalysis which was
then in vogue in the mid 20 century,
Steve and Insoo built on this approach calling it the
Solutions Focus Therapy (SFT) Model which rapidly became
one of the leading and effective models of therapy since
From therapy the Model has now been applied very
successfully to business applications such as business
development, team building, sales, leadership
development and many others..
Traditionally, many business leaders and managers see
themselves as problem-solvers. They fix problems by
understanding the root causes of the problem - asking
“What's going on?”; “Why doesn’t it work?”; “Who’s
responsible for the problem?”; “When was the problem
first noticed?”; etc. This approach works and indeed was
the basis for the quality revolution of the 1950s
started by Deming and Juran in Japan.
The Solutions Focus leader or coach put the problem on
its head – they focus instead on looking for workable
solutions without spending an inordinate of time
defining the problem. In too many organizations, we see
situations where analysis leads to paralysis.
A brief theory of the SF Business Model can be summed up
in two lines:
1. If something does not work, do something else.
2. If something works, do more of it.
This approach is particularly effective in managing
human performance and behavior on the job. The focus is
on what works and on your people’s strengths rather than
on their weaknesses and failures. Organizations that
have introduced the SF Approach discovered that changes
in behavior and work performance are rapid while morale
and motivation soar.
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