Coaching - A Solution Focused Approach
This is part of a series of blogs on different approaches to coaching
" I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act"
-- Bill Gates
As an executive coach that has coached senior leaders in organizations over many years, I generally get asked about my approach to coaching- how do you coach? While I have an approach that I use, I often draw from various coaching approaches. In my next series of blogs, I will lay out these various approaches and give you my opinion on the approach.
The roots of this approach are in therapy and it was developed by Steve de Shazer & Insoo Kim Berg in the late 1970's. It is based on constructionist philosophy & the notion that the client is capable of solving their problems
In this approach, coaches ask questions as opposed to telling clients what to do. They help clients define a desired future state, construct a path using thoughts & actions to achieve that state.
Framework and ModelsA core characteristic of solution focused approach is client self-regulation. Key tenets of this approach include:
• Key tenets:
• Uses non-pathological interpretative framework
• Client is capable
• Focuses on client's resources
• Clear, specific goal setting
• Action orientation
• Do what works, stop what does not
• Change can take place in short time
CoachingThe solution focused model attempts to change the way the client views the problem. There is usually something called a "Miracle Question" - as in what do you really want and how will you know when you get it. An example of this might be that if the client has to imagine that the problem miraculously disappeared and the solution appeared how would they didn't know that the solution was there, what is a sign that they would know of the existence of this solution.
Instead of focusing on "why", the emphasis is on the "how". Then scaling is used to expand the frame of viewing and resources the client possesses (trait and physical) are highlighted. Multiple client-centered options are generated and the use of small, specific and achievable action steps are laid out.
Ultimately the goal is to 'change the doing'. The coach works with the client to develop behaviors consistent with goal attainment and recognize possibilities by turning problems to springboards for solutions.
The strengths of this approach lie in the emphasis and focus on solutions, as opposed to problems. This futuristic approach is brief and collaborative and liked by executives in organizations. The limitations are that it is somewhat superficial, in that it does not delve deeply into the underlying causes of problems. This may not be the best approach to deal with deep-rooted longstanding issues, where the clients problems and philosophical differences would need to be explored.
References:Berg, I., & Szabo, P. (2005). Brief coaching for lasting solutions. London: Norton & Co.
De Shazer, S. (1988). Clues: investigating solutions in brief therapy. New York: Norton & Co.
Jackson, P., & McKergow, M. (2007). The solutions focus: Making coaching and change simple (2nd Ed.). Bristol: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. (2002). Turning hope thoughts into goal-directed behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 13(4): 304-7