Solution Focus applications. Beyond theory and coaching

Solution Focus applications. Beyond theory and coaching

At a recent conference in Athens some Solution Focused enthusiasts from the world of HR said: ‘I love it, but how do I get the people around me using it?’

My response: ‘Try applying it in your projects, not on the people’.  

Solution focus (SF) has been around for about 30 years. First, in the world of family therapy and more recently, in organizations. Deeply researched, it is an approach to help people find ways to move beyond the things they believe are preventing them from making progress, i.e., when they are stuck. One of the unique aspects of SF is that the client is in charge of the change – the changes they want to make.

Resisting the temptation to know better than your client. The toughest challenge in Solution Focus – Brief Solutions

There is a great body of knowledge about how SF works, both in theory and in practice. The SF therapists are especially strong in the research they do, constantly finding new ways to make their understanding of why SF works and, particularly how to make its applications work even better.

Focusing on clients’ failings invites denial and co-constructs resistance. Build preferred future instead – Brief Solutions

Something of a contrast lies in the example of an increasingly popular psychotherapy model, Positive Psychology (PS). It enjoys a vast body of research on how it works, but less so in the applications sense. Interestingly, Tony Hsieh of fame used the PS body of research to rationalize and operationalize the emotional intelligence he developed called ‘Delivering Happiness.’

Today, a growing body of organizational consultants, trainers and coaches apply the SF model in a wide variety of situations.

Solution focused therapy comes from a different starting point. If any therapy works it leads to the client ‘doing something different’ – Brief Solutions

People who use SF in organizational work are now developing more definitive applications. Some clients and individuals find the idea of SF interesting, at least intriguing. Yet they still have trouble conceptualizing how to use it. Back to that question; ‘I love it, but how do I get the people around me using it?’

There is an emerging body of SF applications. Here are some of the SF applications I have been using for some time with great success among a wide range of client organization types, namely:

and so on…

When presented in this fashion to organizations, the clients (or your colleagues) will see something they can buy into that relates to the issues they face and are therefore willing to try something new and different. Let them see SF working in this form and draw them into it on an individual basis, e.g., coaching.

What are some of the SF applications you use, or would be willing to buy into?


Betternxt is the Canadian centre learning for Solution Focus in organizations.
Betternxt Academy, solution focus, Toronto




1 thought on “Solution Focus applications. Beyond theory and coaching

  1. Géry Derbier

    I’ve been working with Agile Software Development for the last fifteen years, first practicing it myself and nowadays helping teams and organisations to do so. I’ve adopted the Crystal approach which can be defined as a reflective improvement framework. This approach insists on getting properties put in place, picking up tricks and techniques to fit the particular context. One of the properties (see, the Reflective Improvement is a natural fit for SF. This is the main way I currently frame reflection sessions nowadays and even coined a french acronym for that (EOLE), using the metaphor of a sailing boat.
    Crystal has started its life in the IT industry but it can be used in other businesses that can be categorized as cooperative game of invention and communication. As an exemple, an IT organisation that sets up an initiative to transition itself to Agile Development, might find interesting ideas to conduct this initiative using this Crystal framework and SF as one of the core tools.

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