May 23, 2007

EARS

Insoo Kim Berg and Norm Reuss (1995) have found a beautiful acronym that captures wonderfully what managers, coaches and consultants do when they are helping others in a solution-focused way: EARS. The beauty of EARS is that it captures much of what solution-focused change is in such a short acronym and at the same time through the word ‘ears’ show how attentively the client is listened to and how much helping the client is a matter of leading by following. This is what EARS stands for:

E - Eliciting reports of change
Eliciting the situations where useful change is already happening (exceptions/past successes), by asking questions like:
- What is already going well?
- When were things slightly better?
- When has this already happened?
- How do other notice the change?

A - Amplifying the change
Focusing specifically on what was different in the situation of the exception:
- What made it possible?
- What was the role of the individual?
- How can this success be extended?

R - Reinforcing the change
Asking questions like:
- What goes better?
- How does that help?
- How did you do that?

S - Starting over
Plan for more change. Asking for more examples:
- What else goes better?

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