July 3, 2007

The seven steps approach

Several years ago, I developed - together with my colleague Gwenda Schlundt Bodien- the seven steps approach to solution-focused change. This approach has proven particularly helpful for teaching people some of the most important ingredients of the solution-focused approach. The seven-steps-method is about purposeful change. The method can be compared to a recipe. All ingredients and steps have their specific function and can add to the taste. But the recipe allows you to determine the order and quantities in which the ingredients are used. The seven steps are:

1. Clarifying the need or desire for change
2. Defining the desired state
3. Seeing what is already there
4. Analyzing past success
5. One small step forward
6. Monitoring progress
7. Determining the further desire for change

Use the method flexibly
The seven-step method is a descriptive instead prescriptive method. It reflects how effective change often happens but it does not claim effective change should always happen like this. Often, not all of the seven steps will be relevant and the order in which the steps are used can vary from situation to situation. In other words: don’t take this model to strictly and rigidly. Nearly always the method will be applied iteratively. For instance: after step 7 you go back to a previous step and restart from there.

An Example of how this can work:
Frank is a team manager who asks for the help of a management coach to improve the financial results of his team. First they think about why exactly it is important to change: if his team will not succeed in making the budget people may lose there jobs and Frank can surely forget about promotion within the company. Next, with the help of his coach, Frank defines de desired state: within three months he wants to have his team performing on target again so that everybody will be able to see that they are on the right track again. This would mean more security for the team and better career prospects for Frank. Then, Frank and his coach identify where the team stands now and what has already been achieved: a good cost control, satisfied customers and some good-performing team members. Through this, Frank realizes that there is a reason for optimism. Then he analyzes past successes. He remembers a situation in which he has managed to turn a disappointing team result into a better one: he informed the team fully about the situation and mentioned his worries without detailedly instructing team members what to do. Instead he asked them for ideas which led to some great ideas and initiatives and collaborations. He decides to try out this aproach again. Soon there are some promising results. Frank gets complimented by the business unit manager. The thread is out of the air and Frank begins to believe again in the possibility of a promotion.
In following posts I will discuss each of the seven steps.

1 comment:

  1. This series is a great summary! High quality and extermely relevant - as your blog always is. Thanks!


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