The InterAction Collection

Case Study - "Doing With, Not Doing To"

by Maria Serafim and Jan Dolstra – hosted by Annette Gray

Sep 8, 2020

maria-serafim, jan-dolstra and Annette Gray

Using Solution Focus Strategy Canvas in an Educational Setting

Maria Serafim, Director Public Schools NSW in Sydney Australia is the leader of more than 30 school Principals. She has been working with them (rather than “work on them”, as she describes) in a solution-focused way to bring out the best in their leadership and to help them focus on what matters most in their work.

She has used the Solution Focus Strategy Canvas [see the PDF article below for the background and use of this SF Tool] as a process to:

Develop clarity in the common goal of leadership to improve student outcomes; Introduce the principles and tools of Solutions Focus. What emerged was highly motivated School Principals who supported each other in regular conversations to share their collective wisdom and celebrate personal growth and innovation in their schools. You can see and hear Maria Serafim present on how the facilitation of this co-designed approach made such an impact on each leader personally and to the collective effectiveness of all.

The video, recorded in October 2017, is one in a series of SFiO Online Global Chapter meetings and was hosted by Annette Gray, for the Asia Pacific region.


With this case study, presented as part of our Global Online Chapter webinars, we wanted to achieve two aims:

For you to see and hear Maria present an excellent case on her work with School Principals and how she used the SF Strategy Canvas to create a collaborative and successful team. The second is to experience how the Global Online Chapter webinars work. In this session, there are four parts:

Maria presenting her case study and the SF Strategy Tool (around 35 minutes) Excerpts of the discussion in the two break out groups (around 20 minutes) Feedback and questions to the presenters (around 30 minutes) Some “take away points” (around 5 minutes) The video content will provide you with a wealth of ideas for using SF in education and also in other organisations. It also provides you with some tips on, and challenges of, running an online chapter!

Finally, we have included below the article referred to in the video, Solution Focussed Strategy Canvassing, by Adie Shariff and Ali Abington, for you to understand this tool better. We thank Ali and Adie for permission to reproduce this in our journal.

John Brooker Co – editor

About the Presenters and the Meeting Host

Maria Serafim

Maria is a Director, Public Schools with the NSW Department of Education, Sydney Australia, responsible for supporting and working alongside 32 principals who lead primary, secondary and special schools. Her work involves collaborating with colleagues at a school, Network and system level to ensure that principals are positioned and supported to successfully lead their school communities. A primary focus of her role is to harness the potential of collective efficacy to acknowledge, share and celebrate leadership and actions that positively impact on success for students. Maria uses a positive, solution-focused approach to the growth and development of educational and transformational leadership. Her focus is on enhancing the potential for leaders to apply an agile and innovative approach to leading. Her leadership is defined by applying a positive, growth mindset to change and future focused approaches to coaching and mentoring for success.

Jan Dolstra

Jan is the Principal, Macquarie Fields High School, Sydney. Jan is one of the 32 principals Maria has been working with in a SF way.

Anette Gray

Annette Gray is a Director, and senior leader with Growth Coaching International. Her leadership responsibilities encompass facilitating some of GCI’s key programs: Coaching Accreditation Program, Introduction to Leadership Coaching and Solution Focused Masterclass; as well as helping to drive the strategic initiatives of the business and overseeing the ongoing development of GCI coaches and facilitators.

Her passion is in Solution Focused approaches, helping her clients find the direct route to change and achieve results fast.

Watch: Doing With, Not Doing To

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pdf: Solution Focused Strategy Canvassing: An Approach To Enabling Collective Effort in Making Strategy Happen

Annette Gray
Annette Gray
SFiO Reviewed Practitioner
InterAction Contributor
Chapter Head
SFiO Contributor

Annette is a Solution Focus coach, facilitator and speaker (based in Sydney Australia) on SF Coaching and Mentoring. She has trained over 7,000 managers and leaders to be more “coach like” and use a Solution Focused approach to how they have conversations that helps them achieve change fast. Annette has her own consulting business (Annette Gray Consulting) and has worked across many industries including: Construction, Education, Government, Banking and Finance. She is also a Mentor for Can Too ocean swim programs