There are three simple, elegant and radical ideas at the heart of any solution-focused change:

– One is to be as clear as possible about what’s wanted – this is the ‘solution’ on which we focus

– Another is to harness what is already in place and use these positive forces to influence the emerging future in the direction of the solution

– The third is to take a direct route to what works by overlooking pitfalls and excursion, such as delving in problems and what’s not working.

The Solutions Focus – Paul z Jackson & Mark McKergow

The first words in Chapter 1. They totally nail the premise of the solutions focussed coaching approach that Roy Marriott has been teaching me this year.

As part of the course (which has a particular lens on applying this to coaching agile teams and leaders) we considered how to incorporate this in retrospectives.

So, when invited to run an ‘end of project lesson-learnt’ session for a new client, I spotted the opportunity to give it a whirl. Roy and Chris Thomas (another member of the cohort) helped incorporate a solutions focus into the design of the 90 minutes I had to facilitate the group. Here’s a high-level summary how it ended up:

  1. Share the prime directive
  2. Manage expectations that this session alone is not going to solve all of their problems
  3. Ask the group to get into pairs and have a ‘constructive rant’
    • go for a walk (or go in a breakout room)
    • for 3 mins each person talks about anything that frustrated, annoyed or irritated them wrt the ‘thing’, while the other person just listens
  4. Invite them to now ask their partner What would you like instead’ and capture on a sticky what they say (I used a google jamboard for this as it was done remotely). Each person takes a turn for 3 mins
  5. Everyone reviews and groups the stickies into common themes
  6. Agree a top 3
  7. Work through each prioritised theme using the scaling technique, where 1 = the worst and 10 = the best:
    • What is a 10 for you?
    • Where are you now on the scale?
    • What already makes you an x?
    • Where would you like to be?
    • What is the first tiny step that you can take to move you up the scale?
  8. To wrap it up I demonstrated that we’d actually followed the agile flow of refinement, prioritisation, planning and making a commitment.

It worked! You can see the feedback here showing the majority of feedback in the would recommend / provided value quadrant.

NB. To be added on Monday

Here’s the miro board used to facilitate this session – you can find the full details of the format and facilitation notes there (please contact me direct if you would like a copy or just to chat about this format).

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