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Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

Hi
I'm new to this Discussion list and am interested in what people think about SF practice being used by government to achieve their policy goals.

I work with the occupational health and safety government regulator in NSW Australia.

At the moment we focus on what went wrong when an accident happens. Business fix the problems we identify and then we leave them alone. The trouble is, we are never sure that we've changed their behaviour in the long term.

I have a suspicion that if we focused firstly, on the 364 days when no accident happened and what they did well on those days they would be able to identify themselves, how they could have stopped the accident on the 365th day. I guess that this would also give them the skills and confidence that they can keep their workplace safe in the long term.

I wonder about how this solution talk might work in practice. Business are scared of us and don't trust us not to punish them unfairly. Our inspectors deal with lots of angry people and generally think business are not interested in safety and only interested in making money.

Does anyone have any clues about how SF practice might work in this context?

Many thanks

Megan

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Hi Megan

Welcome to SOLWorld! A few thoughts on this... I've seen SF work very well with health and safety in industrial contexts, indeed one of our first pieces of work was with a chemical plant in training the H&S officers to use an SF approach - even when something had gone wrong. (You can read one story which came from that in Chapter 1 of The Solutions Focus book!)

A few practical aspects of working in an SF way with this kind of issue:

* Your idea of facilitating people to think it through for themselves is of course a very good one. Particularly if you do it in a way which leaves them feeling enthusiastic to get on and make changes, feeling that they can do it, that it's worth doing etc.

* You may find that once word gets out, your reputation might begin to change

* You could also consider SF-based safety audits - spotting what's done well and small steps to improve - even when there is no accident to investigate

* Your inspectors might find that if they get good at affirming/complimenting, they find more amenable people on the other end!

Cheers
Mark
Hi Megan,

I haven't been on this site for a long time, so please excuse the delay in commenting your question; but even with delay I found the similarity of the situation you describe striking to some project I've been involved two years ago, so I thought I'd comment anyway. This project was about introducing "SF-Management" at "Children's Administration", a roughyl 3000 employees organization of Washington State in the US. And they were seen by their customers as some mostly control institution making trouble, so they met lots of angry customers, too. Insoo Kim Berg has worked in this area before, and wrote a book co-authored with Susan Kelly about it: "Building Solutions in Child Protective Services". Maybe you can draw helpful parallels from their experience? Or maybe you'd have more specific question about what we, my American colleague Stephen Langer and I, learned from this work and applied in our "organizational coaching" project? If so, you're welcome to get in contact also via direct e-mail (doc.ks@web.de)
Cheers,
Klaus
Thanks Klaus, I will follow up your suggestions. Some years ago I worked for a large charity working with homeless young people and was introduced to SF practice. Ever since, I've seen interesting opportunities to transfer the learning from that environment to others.

I hope as I find more examples of where these practices have been useful I might begin to convince my department to trial some of them. Until then I think that most of my colleagues just think I'm a little excentric.

Thank you

Megan

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