A focus on simple solutions is just too simple to win over Liz Hedgecock

A theory described as “the theory of no theory,” has one acronym (SIMPLE) and one diagram. My initial reaction to the main premise of The Solutions Focus was: “Is that it?”

Given that most books of this size come bursting with different theories and models, the book feels somewhat low on content. However, what it has to say is worth hearing.

The main idea is about changing your approach from focusing on problems to focusing on solutions, on what has worked to some degree before, and on how to do more of those things, however small, to work towards a visualised future perfect state.

Key concepts are to use what is already there, and to treat every case as different; the advice is to look for things that have worked (counters) and do more of these, rather than make large scale changes or develop new strategies. The idea is that small incremental changes bring further benefits, which move the situation towards the future perfect vision. Halfway through, the book shifts perspective to look at how a solutions focus can be applied in coaching and consulting.

While reading, I thought about a “problematic” area of work, realised things are already moving in the right direction, and thought of some ways to promote this and nudge the process along. A solutions focus can work. My quibble is that the concept feels stretched, both in terms of filling a book of this size and in the unspoken assumption that it will work in all situations.

Liz Hedgecock is a workforce improvement manager for NHS North West.

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