Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

Using SF for Conflict Resolution - Outcome of SFCT call


Members of the SFCT UK and Ireland group discussed dealing with team conflict in an SF way. We referred to an article on this topic as a stimulus for discussion. Despite the low numbers the call enabled a valuable discussion.

Initial thoughts

The consensus was that, the typical SF approach is itself a very good way to deal with conflict. We (those on the call) thought that it is first important to enable people to air their concerns in a controlled way otherwise resentment can simmer. Care should be taken to ensure that questions are solution rather than problem focused.

It is then important to move on to the Future Perfect or miracle question, having the conflicting teams describe their future perfect. This often enables teams to see that they share similar aspirations, highlighting assumptions that may be unfounded.

From this the facilitator can use scaling questions to focus people towards the future perfect rather than the present, identify counters and agree actions.

We also agreed that in a conflict situation, it is important to have a senior sponsor who can introduce the workshop and express the importance of resolving the conflict.

Discussion re articles

We moved on to discuss the value of articles in helping people to facilitate interventions. We agreed that if the intervention is high risk (such as conflict situations), the article must be very clear and detailed in its instructions, to provide confidence for a prospective facilitator. Additionally, to supplement the article, the use of video to demonstrate and clarify the approach would be invaluable.

The article we reviewed also highlighted for us the issue of culture and whether certain types of intervention would work across cultures, in particular the use of humorous interventions.

We agreed that it would be a valuable function of SFCT UK meetings to include a session to demonstrate tools and techniques written up in articles in SF literature, perhaps experimenting if the author is not available to run a session.

Finally we agreed how valuable it is to discuss with fellow SF facilitators an article describing an intervention, prior to trying the intervention. Certainly we all gained new perspectives about the conflict intervention we discussed on the call.

Finally, it was discussed that Stephen Covey has a new book to be published this year called “The Third Alternative” which should be invaluable in dealing with conflict situations.

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