May 30, 2007

Don't talk too much about the solution focused approach

Insoo Kim Berg experienced a particular difficulty when she and her colleagues had just started to develop solution-focused techniques: ‘I worked in a therapy practice, and I did well. I worked very hard, and I accepted cases the other therapists would rather not take... But my colleagues did not like it at all.... There was quite a lot of pressure. At a certain point, my colleagues even would look the other way when I met them in the hallway. I now know, I made the mistake of talking too much about what we were doing. That way it got too much attention. We should have just continued without talking much about it. I decided to leave because of the pressure. And we started our own practice’. A good lesson can be learned from this. If you are working in an organization in which many of your colleagues are not familiair with the solution-focused model it is often wise not to talk to much about it. Trying to convince them may not work too well. Often is works better to just take from the solution-focused approach what you would like to use and start using it without talking about it too much. Although it may be tempting to share your enthusiasm with other, it is usually better to wait till they are so curious that they almost make you tell them. Solution-focused change should never become more important than your goals, the things you you are trying to accomplish. I think, the words 'solution-focused' should not play the leading role in a change process. By applying the techniques, achieving results and continuing this, you may create some curiosity about how you are working. If you are interested in spreading these ideas, allow others the freedom to use only what seems useful to them like and ignore the rest.


  1. Coert,

    This reminds me of the case of a doctor who tried to create a "revolution" and even wrote a best selling book about his methods that really worked. He was censured by the American Medical Association though and labeled a quack. That was 40 years ago. Finally, more and more people, doctors included, are accepting his ideas. If he'd spoken in a less revolutionary way he may not have created such resistance to his ideas and many more people could have benefited.

  2. Exactly. It is like Robert Sternberg said: "When you have a creative new idea or program, don't expect people to come running to you. If they do, beware of the poison darts!"

  3. I also think that if you are successful at what you do and you are part of a knowledge community and others get curious, invite those curious folks to measure what you are doing. Invite them to test hypothesis about it, about why it works, why it sometimes does not work, for how long etc.

    I think many scientists cannot resist a promising area of investigation presented in this manner.

  4. I think as soon as people sense that something is respeatedly coming TO them, their defensive reflexes are easily triggered. But when they are allowed to see something interesting happening, they may, after some time, start approaching it themselves. If they, then, are welcomed to join and particpate, the condition may be good for them to change their perspectives


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