Finding ‘What Works’ with Solution-Focused Consulting and Training is a quick walk on a long path. 

With little effort, you can make it through the path and find your way quickly. Yet, every time you walk the path…you find something that you did not see and perhaps understand before. Discovering that new things you never noticed and knew existed have become apparent every time you walk this path.

What is solution-focused?
  • The approach values simplicity in philosophy and language and aims to discover “what works” practically in a given situation
  • The focus on what’s wanted (not what’s wrong), what’s going well (rather than what’s gone badly), and practical progress (rather than explanatory theory) leads to a positive and pragmatic way to work with organizations and individuals.

What is the Miracle Question?

  • The Miracle Question The miracle question is a method of questioning used by a coach, therapist, or counselor to help the client envision how the future will be different when the problem is no longer present. Also, this may help to establish goals. Wikipedia
A form of the Miracle Question:

I tried a variation with a project team of Aircraft Engineers. This variation stemmed from my fear of using the miracle question and knowing it works.

We spent three days working through root-cause analysis and struggling to determine what was causing a screw to vibrate loose during flight.

The engineers had statistics, charts, and specifications for all sorts of things…and I was there to facilitate the team through Innovation Models to develop a solution to this vibrating screw.

At the end of day 3, we were all losing patience, and we felt it was hopeless…so I took a risk and tried the following version of the Miracle Question.

Things are rough, and I am unsure what innovation and problem-solving methods plus models I can throw at you. We know what we want to have happen, we have the right people here to fix this, and we are not making progress. Here is my suggestion let’s stop now and come back at this tomorrow. AND before you leave, I have one last thing… think about this question and return with an answer for the team at 0800 tomorrow morning.

You leave here and place your project planning and analysis results on your desk. Then you do what you usually do after work. While you are asleep, one of your staff finds the project plans and analysis of this problem, and they know exactly how to fix it, and they do. Because you work a different shift and they know better than to take documents from your desk, you have no idea they fixed this problem. What would be the 1st concrete thing you would notice when you walked in here tomorrow morning that this problem is resolved?

I heard a couple of what is he talking about comments and went back to my hotel room.

The team arrived at 0800…before I could ask for responses to the question, three people were charting action items, and the rest of the team was nodding their heads…By noon they had the screw in the test lab and, by 3:00 pm, had reached the solution point.

In the de-briefing and lessons-learned discussion the next day, 2 of the 6 team members told me that they took my question seriously…and when they woke up, the solution was in their heads.

 What do you think?

How could you use a variation of the Miracle Question with your team? With yourself? What ideas do you know work and are hesitant to try?