If you aren't part of the solution...

At XtC the other night Mark McKergow presented the Solutions Focus approach to...stuff. 

"Solution" here seems to mean those actions observed to take you in the direction of a more pleasing state of the world and is contrasted with the more traditional "problem" which would be the reasons for the mis–match between what you have now and what you want. The suggestion is to focus on the former and overlook the latter. While we could identify some pretty nasty failure modes for this approach it also has a lot going for it. In particular, this line of thinking reenforces the too–little practised technique of recording what went well during your retrospectives and taking an action to do more of that.

Meanwhile two items from the discussion caught my attention.

Gary Player said (as reported by David Anderson) that when a good player makes a great stroke he swings again to fix the memory of what the good stroke felt like, whereas a poor player swings again after a bad stroke to try to identify what went wrong. Given what the learning curve tells us about repetition and consistency this suddenly made Solutions Focus make a lot more sense to me. 

It was observed that a lot of the examples given of the effectiveness of Solutions Focus were concerned with its application to psychotherapy. Asked why this should be Mark opined that therapy is easier than management consulting. Nice.

Examples, Exemplars, Gauges, Tests

At XpDay London 2008 I gave a lightening talk that turned into an open space session about examples an why they work so well. Some folks asked for some more information and some is available in this presentation [pdf] from Agile 2008, and also this old post.

There are some gaps in the presentation where we did exercises. The first is to ask why Jaffa Cakes are cakes and not biscuits. The others encouraged attendees to explore firstly some of the limitations of definitions and then some of the power of examples.


(And sorry it took me so long to get around to posting this)