Solution Orientation

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A constructive attitude toward the ideal of empowerment is to concentrate on finding solutions not based on people's deficits or problems but rather on increasing their abilities, for reflecting “solutions to problematic patterns in thought and behaviour - and finding solutions dialogically.”[1]

In general, learners are able to find solutions from among their problems. Their solutions come from their realistically described abilities. Facilitators can support this constructive attitude with appreciating the participants’ existing abilities and increasing the ability of learners to thinking in options and opportunities. One tool for shifting the focus from problems in such manner is to stay consequently asking questions aimed at solutions.[2]


Coaching is a consultancy approach strong conected to the idea of solution orientation. It is consequently defining the facilitators role as being part of the support system and that of the learner as the agent and solution finder. Main working tools for coaching are inspiring and forwarding questions aimed at solutions. Here some examples:

Questions aimed at solutions

“Tell me in which situations ‘the problem’ is a bit smaller!”

“Tell me about the last time this (positive) happened. How did you respond?”

“What will you need to do differently when the situation changes?”

“What would your best friend say, if I asked her what you usually do when the situation changes?”

That being said, we do not want to overlook the productivity of critical observing. We do want to point out, that being oriented on solutions helps people concentrate on their strengths and adjust their goals more easily[3]

Constructive Questions

In detail systemic coaching based on this idea of solution-focus, short term intervention and agency at the side of the learner is making use of a set of constructive questions.

Difference between Coaching and Advice

Find here some more illustrations how solution focused facilitation with coaching methodology is different from an approach putting more responsibility for solutions to the facilitator (advice)


  1. Maren Fischer-Epe, Coaching: Miteinander Ziele erreichen; Reinbek 2002/2011 p.59
  2. The solution focused approach is strongly influenced by Steve de Shazer and the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Association
  3. N. Zimmermann: Mentoring Handbook - Providing Systemic Support for Mentees and Their Projects; Berlin 2012; MitOst; ISBN 978-3-944012-00-1; p. 28

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email: