Application Tasks and Examples

Application Task: Resource Gossip

This team exercise is so foundational that you can´t miss it in your repertoire as a team coach. This is how it is best run:

Form groups of three people. Two of them are exchanging positive gossip about the third person, who has their back turned to them. Their gossip is about some of the following questions:

  • What is she really good at? What are her skills?
  • What do I appreciate / really like about her?
  • What are her special talents and strengths?
  • If they don´t know the third person well, they might also express some positive first impressions or assumptions, such as: “I could very well imagine that she is good at… that she likes…. Etc.”

After 3-4 minutes seating arrangements change and the gossip is centered on the second person, after another round on the third person until everybody has received their “positive gossip”.

Thereafter the three exchange impressions on “How was this for you? What surprised you? What pleased you? What do you learn from it?”

Try it out and you will be surprise how much the atmosphere in the team changes. Within a few minutes everyone is happily smiling and in a good mood. Appreciation is usually not expressed enough. Experiences of this kind improve the bonding in the team, which builds resilience to master tough challenges or conflicts.

Application Task: A Solution Focused Formula for Business Experiments

Use the scientific method of formulating and testing business hypotheses in an SF way. Here are the steps:

  1. Let us assume that you have already identified a genuine customer need (by asking the best hopes and difference-questions, by observation, or by other means).
  2. Next you have formulated your preferred future solution to provide an answer to this need in concrete (but not excessive) detail.
  3. You have also identified where you are on a scale leading to your preferred future solution and described what is already in place and working.
  4. The next step is to formulate an experimental task that will help you and your team move into the right direction. Use the following well-known formula for setting up an experimental business task:

We believe that…. <doing the following>  e.g. putting an e-book on a specific topic on amazon
Will result in… <the outcome> e.g. sales that will give us some information about who is interested in this topic and how much potential customers are willing to pay for it
We will know that we have succeeded when... <a measurable result> e.g. we have managed to sell 100 copies per month and thus gained information about whether a product on such a topic has a market

Example Conversation: What solution building blocks to pick out from a problem story?

CLIENT: I am really frustrated with my team. They don´t collaborate. We argue all the time and get nothing done. It is really disheartening.
YOU: So what is your best hope from talking to me about this?
CLIENT: You see our results are terrible, and the deadline is looming large. We really have to get our act together. But I don´t know what to do. We need to have better collaboration. People are either passive in our meetings, or they accuse each other of mistakes. We can´t go on like that.
YOU: So you would like to find a way to have better collaboration?
CLIENT: Yes. It costs me so much energy every day to run the daily stand-ups, I can´t tell you. And last week we had a retrospective which almost ran out of control. We really need to learn from our mistakes, but people won´t listen to each other!
YOU: So if you had found a way to have better collaboration, and for people to learn and listen to each other, what difference do you think this might make for the team?
CLIENT: Well, that would improve our results, and they badly need improving!

Application Task: Outcome-Directed Meetings

Sometimes your bosses or customers need direction, too. You can give and get guidance by doing two simple things:

Ask: What will be a good outcome from this meeting for you?
Say: A good outcome from this meeting from my point of view will be…

Most conversation partners will be grateful. They might admire and even adopt your outcome-directed meeting management style! Make this a consistent habit with your colleagues and staff members, and they will start anticipating your inevitable outcome-directed question.

Application Task: Solution Focused Meeting Nudges from the Back Seat

What if a meeting or conversation you are participating in rambles on without direction? You might consider:

Asking the chairperson about what will be a good outcome from this meeting from his/her perspective.
Asking the whole group: What could we usefully do in this meeting that would improve our project? How could this meeting help us take a step forward?
Asking the group around each agenda item: What are we hoping to achieve with our discussion of this topic? What might be a good outcome of our brainstorming on this agenda point?

If the decision makers are not present at the meeting and all you can do is to prepare the decision for them:

What would Ms. X need to come to a decision? What would be a good proposal of a decision to make to her? What could we do until the decision is taken?

Application Task: Multiple Scales with “Lift Effect”

  • Identify 5 or 6 scales each representing some aspect of what you hope to achieve.
  • Where are you on each of these scales? - Identify 4 or 5 things that put you there and not at 0 for each scale.
  • What have you done to help you be where you are now? (x 5)
  • How will you know that you have moved one point up on each scale? (x 2)
  • If you moved up one point on Scale 2 what difference might it make to Scale 4?
  • And if you moved one point up one Scale 1 what difference might it make to Scale 3?

Establish connections and see how progress on one scale lifts you progress on one or several of the others.