We’ve been sending out invites for our Solutions Focus Coaching course, and got this response from a sceptical colleague:
‘I'm not sure of the incremental value in terms of how this approach is framed and how it is differentiated from coaching conversation using existing known models. It implies, from the of the wording in the document, that traditional coaching gets stuck in problems without an appreciation of solutions and utilisation of an individual strengths. which is just not the case in terms of how coaching conversations are conducted.'
In other words, how is SF different? And is that difference of any value?
Well, SF is different from, say the most common coaching model, which is GROW, whose originator – Sir John Whitmore – himself acknowledged the incremental value of the SF approach in a testimonial on the cover of our ground-breaking book, The Solutions Focus – Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE.
In GROW, you consider Reality, which includes all the problematic aspects of a situation. SF bypasses this, knowing that if you focus on creating a desired solution, you’ll reach your goal without needing to delve into so many aspects of ‘reality’. Nor, for that matter, into such a wide-ranging slate of Options (the O in GROW). Instead, we select one well-chosen next small step and quickly discover whether or not it helps us on our way to what’s wanted.
Having said that, and noting that the book gives loads more detail about what are really quite radical differences, we acknowledge that all good coaching has lots in common – respect for the client, great listening, a structured sequence of questions. So what’s the additional value of SF?
We think it resides in its simplicity, its pragmatism, its speed (typically fewer sessions for any project or intervention) and its assiduous attention to what’s wanted, what’s working (resources, not deficits) and what counts as progress (discovered in quick next steps) – and nothing else.
Will that convince our sceptic? I doubt it. But if you are open to new ideas and new experiences, even as a seasoned coach and change agent, you are welcome to join us to discover in what is ultimately the only way to know if it’s for you – in the shape of personal experience.