dinsdag 18 augustus 2009

Looking for the bright side of business and life

*This post is inspired by me taking my own medicine, ha! 

A nursing home in Germany built an exact replica of a bus stop in front of the facility to stop Alzheimer patients, who walk out the the home. The only difference is that buses never stop there. “It sounds funny,” said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, “but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. 

Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.” The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place. 

“We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later today and invite them in to the home for a coffee,” said Mr Neureither. “Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave. 

This ia a good example of a bit of creative thinking by focusing not on what is wrong, but on
a) what is there;
b) what is working within behaviour shown;
c) amplifying the positive instead of stopping a negative.

Which can be a quite usefull way of working, especially when trying to get client buy-in.

There is this form of therapy, called Solution Focused Brief Therapy. It is a form of family and personal trauma therapy. The big difference being: it refuses to discuss the problem you are experiencing. Quit bluntly, one of it foundational premises is that: the solution and problem are not in direct relation to each other. 

It asks the following questions:
what is wanted (vs what is wrong)
what is working (vs why is it wrong)
what are the strengths (vs what are the weaknesses)
what small steps along the lines of what is working can we amplify (vs what overarching strategies can we develop)

So from a business p.o.v. instead of doing research to become an expert at the clients problem, what if you focus time on getting the client to discribe the solution (say a margin growth of 8% by next year) and specify the ways this perfect solution could be noticed ? (read # of items sold, downing of cost by x amount etc...)? 

The second thing SFBT does is asks on a scale of 0 to 10 as to how close you are to your dream solution. If it is a 3, then you identify the things that make it a 3 and try to build on that. Most companies will not be a " 0", so there is always something positive to work with that enables you to achieve initial succes and momentum.

When you know what success looks like and what already is contribution towards it, you now start to focus on identifiying the ways to amplify this. 

Because again, the solution may not have any connection to the problem. But by starting from a "perfect solution" and working back to present day situations, time is used in a postive and constructive way. Even more so, because most people will have a harder time talking about their problems than about nice things.

See..like the Alzheimer patients mentioned earlier, sometimes trying to change hardwired bad behaviour can be to much trouble and in the end not bring you or the client the results both of you wish. 

But by working with what is there (and accepting that there is a negative and positive in every situation) and seeing how you can enhance the positive, you just might end up in a place where you, your client and your competitors did not expect to end up. And get there quicker, with a stronger bond between you and your client.

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