The Inspiration for SOLVEDcards self-coaching solution-focused 

Behind SOLVED is a belief in people knowing themselves and understanding that change happens and is inevitable.

The discussions are unique to each situation, but all follow the same rough outline. SOLVED is an acronym for a process of solution-finding using specific questions to drive the discussion. Each SOLVED letter stands for a different category of questions and way of thinking about your problem.

Throughout these exercises, Mike helps individuals and organizations quickly find what they would like to happen, identify what skills they already have, and identify a small progress step.

SOLVEDcards self-coaching example mike cardus

SOLVEDcards self-coaching progress example


Using the SOLVEDcards by yourself to get unstuck or figure out your progress step is powerful.

Brandon felt stuck in his career and was unsure of his next move if he wanted to stay with his current employer or even stay in his field.


Using the SOLVEDcards, Brandon went through the following process.

He took out the SOLVEDcards and laid them face down on his desk.

Brandon presented the following challenge and wrote it on his whiteboard

              What is my next career step? And, how will I know what to do?

Using the SOLVEDcards, he went through the following sequence. He randomly chose a Situation card, taped it to the whiteboard, and wrote out his response. Then he chose an Observation, Level, Exception card and wrote his answer to each question.

Brandon sat in Admiration of his responses, successes, how he got where he is, and skills from his past he was now using to enhance his career and life. Brandon found it interesting that he knew many of these things and did not focus on them enough. And, when using the SOLVEDcards, he felt greater optimism and more options.

Next, in Reflecting, he wrote in his notebook advice to himself. 

How he would recommend a close friend to make progress on this, a similar experience, how he figured things out, and some areas and concerns that he knew might happen.

The idea of disassociating yourself and giving advice to a good friend makes more space for innovation and change.

With all those ideas and bright spots whirling in his head Brandon chose a Decision & Direction card to complete the SOLVEDprocess:

Flip a coin heads; you agree to share and commit to making one change by the end of today; tails you agree to do nothing different.

He decided to flip a coin for 10 days in a row, do something different that day, and write the difference and how that made him feel – what difference he noticed.


The coin-flipping created a feeling of chance and less need to control.

When Brandon flipped the coin and got heads, he did something different. Differences like;

  • taking a new route to work, 
  • speaking up in a meeting where he is ordinarily quiet, 
  • inviting his manager or another manager to lunch, 
  • taking on a new project at work that he thought he was unqualified for but still interested him, 
  • applying to a different job in another company.

As Brandon felt control over his changes and wrote the difference he noticed, he felt more control. Coworkers and friends told him that he is “acting different and is inspiring them.”

The SOLVEDcards and this small change to do more of what is working and do less of what is not; gave Brandon confidence in himself to get unstuck.

mike cardus solved cards deck


Make change happen with a problem-solving approach that’s focused on solutions.