At a recent conference, a group of us looked at how a solutions-focused practitioner would tackle climate change.
For a start, rather than analysing the problem again, we can accept that an overwhelming majority of scientists have made it clear that we are heading for trouble. The next temptation is to dive quickly into problem solving and action planning – and we know that there’s plenty of that going on, so we can save what we know about those efforts until later in the discussion. Instead, we’d invite our group of world leaders, concerned citizens, radical activists of whoever, to reach common ground by describing what kind of life and world we want to see (if the problem were solved or if it vanished overnight).
Questions along those lines might include:
- Given your understanding of the reality of the situation, what are your best hopes for the future?
- What things do you cherish about life that you’d like more of.
- If we woke up tomorrow in a world of climate stability, what would we notice?
- Tell me a story about the world you want to live in.
- What can we agree that we all want?
The conversation would produce visions of a future we might feel inspired to work towards, and would set up descriptions we could recognise of what might already be happening in some places and when they occur in future.
Now is the time for what’s working already:
- Who are the most persuasive advocates of what we want here, and how are they doing that?
- Tell me a story about successful change projects and what you know about them?
- Who are good people and organisations to build alliances with?
- There’s productive and useful work been done with COP, Paris and beyond. How might we do more of that?
And then we’d discuss what to do next:
- What might be a small next step towards that desired world?
- What qualities do you have that you can bring to changing your own life?
- What would people around you notice you doing that shows you take this seriously?
- Let’s gather to share stories of a future with fewer industrial resources.
Of course, a lot depends on who is asking which questions of whom and where.
Given a crisis that can be tackled on all sorts of levels, whether personal, community, national, international or global, a Solutions Focus approach can offer surprisingly productive progress.