July 8, 2007

The seven steps approach (step 4): Analyzing past success

The following step is to identify specific situations in the past in which things have already gone better. This might involve: a) an exception to the problem: the current problem was less problematic, or b) an earlier success: the situation you want to achieve was already happening to some extent (read more). When you have identified such a situation, you answer questions like:
- What went right in this situation?
- What was different in this situation?
- What made possible for things to go better?
- What was your own role in this success?

Analyzing situations of ealier success helps to find what I call internal solutions, solutions that have already once been applied and have proven effective. Internal solutions work so well, because they 'fit' in the sense that the people involved (1) know how to apply them, (2) have the skill to apply them, and (3) trust in the relevance and effectiveness of the solution. That internal solutions fit so well creates a sense of ownership, which makes it easier for people to restart using them and to keep on using them. Focusing on internal solutions is focusing on what is already there, instead of what is not there. It is based on the assumption that the person or organization has the resources available to be successful. It is an appreciative way of looking at individuals, teams and organizations. It implies they are already good.

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