Tonight was a pretty cool night. While attending a conference in Bruges, Belgium I made some new friends (can be rare for me due to being a pretty introverted person) and spend time with one of my best friends, Chris Iveson.
As we walked around the city this group made a huge mistake and trusted me to get us to a the part of the city where a good restaurant was located. Normally this would not be a problem as I tend to have an unusually strong sense of direction, but tonight this skill failed me. I got twisted all around and we ended up walking in a rather large circle ending up exactly where the journey started.
So rather than looking for the “best” restaurant we simply settled for the closest. It was a quiet little place on a little side street off the Bruges canals. In the window was a display of wonderful looking waffles. I was pleased because I have never been to Belgium and wanted to taste the food they are most famous for. Of course I have had waffles plenty of times in my life, but never from the place where they are most famous.
As I enjoyed my entrée I couldn’t help but fantasize about the potentially wonderful dessert that awaited me. I wondered silently, “will it be any different from other waffles”?
Then the moment came. I selected a waffle that came with some pretty cool toppings and it is not an over statement to say that this was the best damn waffle I have ever placed in my mouth. But why? What makes this waffle so far and away above all others I have tried? Well, the answer is a quite simple.
In this area of the world waffles are common staples of the diet. They are so sought after that tourists come here with this sweet treat in mind. This means the restaurants have to meet the expectations of the visitors, it also means they have to meet the expectations of the locals who have come to expect better than average waffles.
That is because here waffle making is a craft that is taken very seriously. They hone their recipes, perfect which toppings taste best on their waffles. In essence, they spend hours upon hours perfecting their waffle making skills. Also, they don’t stop, they keep up with culinary trends. When people began to eat more Nutella, they offered it, when people got more health conscious, they added fruit options and so on.
I’ve been saying it for years, and I’ll likely keep saying it. We need to stop focusing on trying to figure out why the Solution Focused Approach works (and just accept that it does) or just trying to learn the “techniques”. We have to treat learning this method like a craft and spend time honing the skill of asking questions. So much so that the question process becomes second nature and can be applied regardless of the problem that brought the client into your office.
I have been on this bandwagon for a while because I still think as a field many professionals remain focused on the techniques and not so much on the language skill. We remain focused on the answers and not the questions. We spend more time theorizing about change instead of focusing on the thinking that leads towards meaningful client change. We stay focused on the how to use this with client’s with xyz problem instead of building the skill so this method can be applied regardless of the client problem.
Once we make this shift, perhaps then will SFBT be as well received as a delicious Belgian Waffle.