Solution Focus as learning design [entry-title permalink="0"]

Ugens gæsteblogger er Katalin Hankovszky, en af årets workshopholdere på dansk løsningsfokuseret konference. Kati er pt. i gang med en PhD omkring læring i pædagogik og noget med LØFT 🙂

Lately I had a conversation with a former coaching student of ours. He was so excited of what he learned in solution focused brief coaching – appreciative and encouraging conversations which allow clients to come easier and faster further towards their wishes, than they ever thought. In our chat he complained about the trainings he gave in his job with 16 participants – what a pity he can’t just coach them, he said, 16, it’s too much and even if he just spends 3-4 minutes with one of them, others are bored.

And then I told something (it surprized me, I’m usually not confident giving an advice like that): let themselves in pairs ask those favourite questions of yours.

I didn’t think it was a story worth mentioning in a blog post on Solution Focus as learning design, but then his enthusiastic reaction followed: YES, he said, exactly! This is what I have been doing during my whole education in Solution Focus and how great it was! He helped me to discover, how simple it was.

Solution Focus: an excellent set of assumptions and invitations (questions) to facilitate group learning

The largest frame I got aware of so far in these twenty years of playing around with SF and group learning was the fact, that we experience a high level uncertainty in current knowledge.

The best we can do facing it and the imperative of life long learning is to educate passionate learners so they’ll be curious and confident enough to continue learning even after the formal education event is finished, and strengthen us in the sense of wanting to figure out ”it” even better. And this has consequences on, how we organize interaction in group learning.

Taking solution focus for learning settings

Solution focus in learning groups means to me as the trainer to act consequently with the assumptions, that:

  • learners are experts for their life (also within a classroom setting)
  • there are always resources to build up on.

My actions are influenced by these assumptions. Observer would see me offering divers choices like with whom, how long do they want to learn or what do they want to focus on.

Another observable way to follow my assumptions is to use questions as invitations for learners to create their own fitting version of what should be learned. When I say ”invitations” (following a suggestion of Daniel Meier) I acknowledge the freedom of learners to answer this invitation in their best possible way. To use my offered frame exactly as they think it´s the best for their learning.

An Example

At the beginning of a training I´m often curious and request a ”feedback” on what participants already know about our topic. So I say to them: Please use your hand as a feedback instrument and raise it to the top of your head if you’d say you know as much on [our topic], that you actually could offer this training yourself – and lay your hand on your knee if you don´t know anything but really nothing about it, not even read the announcement of the training… – so if this is a scale, please show with your hand, how much you already know.

Seeing the hands makes me even more curious, so I ask them to turn to the neighbour and to share 1-2 things from ”between their hand and knee”, so from what they already understood, that makes them the most wanting to learn more about because it’s somehow promising for them.

Much of what I like about solution focus in group learning shows up in what I don’t do (but did earlier). I use the time less often for listening to one answer in the whole group (seldom my own answer either).

So if I give a frame for a conversation like the above mentioned, I usually have no clue about their answers. I trust it makes sense to them. And it makes learner more and more clear about, how they want to use our time and I invite them to interfere for a better use. And more and more I can welcome if they do so.


Katalin Hankovszky

The credit for this learning of mine goes to my colleagues in the professional group Solutionsurfers, (link: and especially Peter Szabó in there.

For more examples read: K. Hankovszky e.a.: Yet another radical paradigm shift: Some congruent ideas about SF Training in: InterAction - The Journal of Solution Focus in Organisations, Volume 4, Number 1, May 2012, pp. 21-27(7) (Full text on request)