Treasured Article – An SF approach to team motivation
A jewel from the treasure chest of the InterAction archive
Sep 8, 2020
A review of Stanus Cloete’s Case study by Marika Tammeaid
In this great case study Stanus Cloete tells about a development project in a company consisting of two hair salons. In his work with the client organization he uses the basic and famous SF tool OSKAR by Paul Z. Jackson and Mark McKergow. However, the tool is used in a creative manner and the model creates a frame for a longer organizational development process.
The starting point of this client project is clearly problematic. In the company it has been hard for the management to share their vision of the future development with the personnel. Lack of trust is present and even disciplinary action has been taken with some employees. Despite this type of entry, the development process becomes marked with lightness, fun and good results.
The case is a model example of taking good care of inviting everybody to play an important role in the better future for the company. Stanus starts with personal interviews, i.e. careful and appreciative listening and taking the dreams and wishes of the personnel into account so seriously and thoroughly that it creates a unique atmosphere of appreciation and amusement. If somebody states that their expectation would be to have chocolates in the workshop, that is organized and a success during the process is celebrated with a bowl of chocolates. That makes even the most hesitant employees willing to get on board and maintain “a yes set” for facing something new.
As a result of the personal interviews starting the process, everybody in the company is more aware of their own goals and Stanus has created connection with all the employees. In addition to that he has also got a picture of goals that the employees can agree on, which turns everybody into a customer of change. Stanus also carefully adapts the development process to the accurate working environment, using vocabulary and exercises arising from the language of the personnel and goals meaningful to them. In this environment the empty chair exercise is of course a client sitting in a hair salon client chair and the name of the whole process refers both to a professional term in stylists’ work and the preferred result of the common project.
A special merit of the article is that Stanus describes step by step how he proceeds in the project as a SF practitioner and what kind of exercises he uses in the workshops. He also refers to SF literature and writes about his own aspirations and reasoning behind the choices. Among the vast variety of creative and concrete working methods presented in the article, my special favourite is “the Sparkle”; in addition to verbal affirmation, Stanus increases the amount of solution talk produced by the team by giving away candies called Sparkle for significant, solution creating contributions. Gradually the team starts to suggest Sparkle candies to each other as a mark of progress in creating ideas.
With his thorough and inspiring approach, Stanus has written a valuable article for teaching SF and showing the difference compared to other approaches. This is also one of the reasons I have come back to the article time after time. When training Solutions Focused coaches-to-be I have used this article since 2010 as reading material and introduction to SF team coaching and organizational development work. A new group of eager learners just started their 13 months (part-time) training course and with them I will again pose the great learning question: What did Stanus do?
Marika Tammeaid firstname.lastname@example.org linkedin.com/in/marikatammeaid/
The original Treasured Article was published in ASFCT’s InterAction Volume 2 Number 2. The editors would like to thank Stanus Cloete for his copyright permission to reproduce the article in SFiO’s Online InterAction.