Becoming solution-detectives – a creative approach to helping people solve problems – John Sharry
When we are faced by problems, our natural inclination is of course to problem solve. We will spend time anaylysing what is wrong and how things are going wrong, so we can come up with a cause or a ‘diagnosis’. While this natural inclination to analyse problems and to discover reasons for them, can often be a good thing, frequently however it can make things worse and lead to further problems. In our search for causes to problems we can become overly negative and ruminate about what is wrong in our lives which can deflate and depress us. Also, once we identify the problem cause, we may still know nothing about how to move forward or what a solution might be – frequently, what causes us to be unhappy in our lives is different than what makes us happy. In addition focusing on problems has the side-effect of apportioning blame – someone needs to be held accountable for what is wrong – and this blame can demoralise us when directed at ourselves and increase conflict when directed at others.
So is there an alternative to analysing problems as a way of overcoming them? The good news is that we can avoid many of the negatives of being problem-focused by simply makeing a shift to becoming much more solution-focused when we tackle the challenges in front of us. Such a solution-focused approach invloves a shift from analysing problems to understanding solutions, from focusing on what’s wrong to discovering what your goals are and what you want to be different. Once you are solution-focused the goal is to explore what is right and what is working and to identify existing strenghts and resources that can help you take steps towards real solutions. The impact of a shift to a solution focused approach can be radical. Focusing on what is going well, and on one’s strenghts and resources is empowering and liberating. Once oriented in this way people can be become feeer to be be more creative and empowered to work on motivating goals. In addtion credit and appreciation are the the side-effects of the solution-focused process (instead of blame and criticism) and this leads to much more cooperation and stronger relationships between people.
For anyone working with people in a helping role either as a counsellor, manager or coach, the solution-focused approach provides an excellent set of principles for motivating people towards positive change and for maintaining a constructive stance even in the face of difficult challenges.
Read more from some extracts from my book Becoming a Solution Detective HERE