Treating whatever we do as an SF culture: Can that make a difference?
I love the SOL World conferences. My first was 2004 in Stockholm. I was then fairly new to solutions-focus. I had done a basic training course in 2002 and had been very encouraged by the work I had done with clients on long-term sick-leave, working with groups and individual coaching. The region I was working in took to basic training and guidance in solution-focus on a grand-scale, 16 organisations did the basic training together. The organisations were both public organisations and private companies active in the field of rehabilitation. Björn Johansson and Eva Persson, our trainers, assured us that this was unique on a global scale and suggested we do a presentation at the SOL World conference. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I felt privileged to be able to attend and contribute.
The experience was over-whelming. Such a magnificent crowd of people from all the different corners of the world, sharing stories, activities and generally having a lot of fun. It was also a crowd genuinely inspired by each other, no matter what status they had. I hardly knew anyone but got so much excellent encouragement from so many, I was so energized. I remember with the new-found energy, I took courage to present an idea and ask for help in the open space on the last day, asking for help to do research on SF practice. Same again, I didn’t know who they were who came, but it was with a real curiosity and I felt so energized to pursue and keep doing more SF in my work. The conference oozed curiosity and genuine feedback, I was taken aback, amazed. WOW.
This conference was really the best experience, conference-wise, I have ever had. Something changed for me that day. It opened my eyes to ways of utilizing SF in so many more ways than in a client situation. I found that it could be so much more, as a way of truly changing the world, as a way of being. It opened my eyes to the possibility of doing huge projects, or taking on immense complexity with easy assurance. I was also astounded by the generosity and curiosity of its members. What a fabulous community!
The next little story I’d like to bring up is a workshop I participated in Belgium on SF-inside, soon almost two years ago. Anton Stellamans and Liselott Baeijaert had invited Yasuteru Aoki to Leuven and I had the oppurtunity to be a part of it, so I went. I remember taking a ride with Anton from his place to the venue of the workshop when we passed, Anton pointed out, Leuven’s biggest company. At the time, as we passed, we were talking about the ethics of SF and also about the amazing culture SOL world events encourage, and how people interact in that space. I asked him – would it make a difference to you if you went into that company’s front doors assuming that there is a SOL World conference just starting up? I remember his eyes gearing up, and a smile forming. ”Yes”, he said, ”it would make a big difference”. He continued saying that with every handshake, every conversation, he would already be inspired by who he was meeting. The resources of the company would be evident and anticipated, and the interaction between him and the staff, would feed off the energy that they were producing together. It would be magnificent. And it would make a difference.
Now I have given this some thought and I have asked around. What is so special about the SF culture, and, as a common example, what is found in SOL World conferences? Is there a specific SF culture there? And if we can recognize it, describe it and take that feeling with us as an embodied assumption in our work, would it make a difference? I ask this of you, the reader, please help me with this project and ponder this. I have found in my own work, that when I assume that the environment I am working in, is already SF, then I have greater chance of being useful for those around me. And as my career has given me the opportunity to work on more and more large-scale projects and contributing to the development of a more joined-up welfare state, I have taken that assumption with me. In my world today, there is very little of ”no SF”. It’s just that sometimes the world is moving a little slower, but there is already a lot of SF, since a long time ago, everywhere I go, as long as the people I meet want to work with me. And they do. Utilizing this assumption, that SF culture is already there, makes my day a lot easier and I am, every day, astounded, how easier my life and work gets every day. So I’d like to dedicate this blog post to you, Björn and Eva for inviting me to do that workshop in Stockholm 2004. Let’s keep exploring what this culture is and what makes change so much easier. If we can experience it and talk about it, then that change is more likely to happen. I don’t know where I would’ve been without that gentle nudge from you both.