Solution-focused Coaching

Many of our approaches to change are problem-focused - in that we attempt to move forward by exploring the problem: we try to understand what the problem is, what has caused it, and what we need to do to get rid of it. This works well in many situations, particularly those involving machines and other man-made artefacts. For example, we may notice that our car seems rather sluggish which prompts us to inspect the wheels. We discover that one of the tyres is flat and so replace it - problem solved! But when we are working with people, diagnosing the problem often gives us little indication of the solution and indeed may even make the situation worse! Fortunately there is another way - we can focus on solutions instead. At heart this solution-focused approach involves:

  • finding out what works and doing more of it

  • stopping doing what doesn't work and doing something else.

It doesn't mean that we refuse to discuss the problem but it does mean that we use any problem discussion to discover what the person wants to do, to learn about their commitment and passion, and to unearth evidence of skills and resources they are already using.

OSKAR is a framework for solution focused coaching:


  • What is the objective of this coaching?
  • What do you want to achieve today?


  • On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 representing the worst it has ever been and 10 the preferred future, where would you put the situation today?
  • You are at n now; what did you do to get this far?
  • How would you know you had got to n+1?


  • What helps you perform at n on the scale, rather than 0?
  • When does the outcome already happen for you - even a little bit?
  • What did you did to make that happen? How did you do that?


  • What's already going well?
  • What is the next small step?
  • You are at n now, what would it take to get you to n+1?

REVIEW: What's better?

  • What did you do that made the change happen?
  • What effects have the changes had?
  • What do you think will change next?

More in The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE or at