How to Use the Solution-Focused Business Coaching Model

By Marie Taylor, Steve Crabb

Solution-focused business coaching helps people see the range of possible solutions open to them and how they can take action to achieve that solution. It can be particularly useful when a client is finding it difficult to discuss the content of a situation or perceives the problem as overwhelming and can’t break it down into its component parts.

The question for the coach in solution-focused work isn’t “Where is the client coming from, and what is the issue she is facing?”; it’s more like “Where is the client aiming to get to, and what steps can she take to get there?”

The coach supports the client by working through these four steps:

  1. Work with the client to create positive forward-focused pictures.

    What will the client be doing (rather than not doing) that will indicate that the problem is getting resolved?

  2. Help the client to identify specific action steps.

    In order for the client to know that she’s succeeding, she needs to know specifically what actions she’ll have to take in order to improve her situation.

  3. Help the client to notice small, incremental changes.

    She needs to identify the small indicators that she or others will notice. Indicators that demonstrate that the action steps she has taken are moving her in the right direction toward resolving the problem.

  4. Identify a preferred future.

    This future is one that the client defines and think. She is capable of achieving. You aren’t looking for the ideal future or the perfect future that the client thinks the coach wants for her.

This model is simple and can be used quickly if a client has limited time. It also works well as a self-coaching tool. Business coaches often teach clients how to use the model themselves and with their teams. It can be used in group coaching where a group is focused on the delivery of a change outcome or introducing a new product, for example.