How To Facilitate Lasting Change, with Alan Kay – PS012

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, Positivity Strategist Host and Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner, and her guest Alan Kay, Solution Focused Facilitator, exchange views and stories about these two change methodologies which are similar, yet distinct.

Both approaches hold the premise that in any system, human or otherwise, there are many things that work well already, and that’s the best play to start any change initiative.  It’s much more energizing and lasting to have the members of an organization identify their own capacities and come up with their own solutions than have an outside consultant do it for them.

How To Facilitate Lasting Change – Episode Summary

Alan Kay Photo of Facilitating Lasting ChangeIn this episode of Positivity Strategist, my guest is Alan Kay, a Solution Focused Change Consultant and “a fully recovered ad-guy,”  as he also refers to himself.

Alan’s consultancy is called The Glasgow Group. His accent is a clue as to why that might be, yet he lives in Canada.  Alan works internationally with a wide range of organizations, in the areas of strategic planning, management development, customer experience and stakeholder consultation.

Alan has authored a book with an intriguing title Fry the Monkey’s Create a Solution – an extremely practical book.  Links to Alan's work are below.

Alan shares some of his experiences in the work he does helping people in organizations through the framework of Solution Focused.  And, I happily add my perspectives from the lens of Appreciative Inquiry.

To Quote Alan:

“Change is inevitable. The world is changing faster than ever before. As people, we tend to resist change. But to move forward, we need to make the most of change. Change will liberate and strengthen the organization. Solution focus’ (SF) is an approach to create listening and understanding, and how to capitalize on and speed up change.”

Energizing Work

Alan learnt from his training in Solution Focused Therapy more than 18 years ago at the Hincks Dellcrest Institute in Toronto that its application in organizations is highly relevant in a wide range of contexts.  What’s particularly energizing is that this framework sees the client as the expert and not the consultant.  The client owns the solution. Alan was inspired to learn how to ask better questions through the Solution Focused framework.  He helps his client groups address the issues the way they see it and reveal answers that they themselves identify.  Alan is always energized by the progress the client makes.

What is Client Resistance?

Pure facilitation bypasses resistance.  Resistance is often a result of the consultant or facilitator moving at a different pace from the client.  And sometimes, the enthusiasm of the consultant or facilitator can get in the way of achieving the outcomes the client wants.  It may require the facilitator to slow down to the clients’ pace allowing them to work with the skills and knowledge they have.

Listen to Alan’s good story of how he helps a client overcome resistance – how he breaks down barriers of people who don’t want to participate in change.  Often, anger and frustration can be overcome by tapping into the resources they have at their disposal, which may be off target, but it helps them make good progress;  this allows time and space for them then to get back on target.

Solution Focused Framework and Questions

The job is to help the client become self-reliant. Good questions facilitate clients owning the solutions. There’s a rich toolbox of better questions to help facilitate moving the conversation forward.  Being thoughtful about the use of the questions on behalf the client is important.

Alan’s book, Fry the Monkeys Create a Solution (link below) simply and clearly sets out the Solution Focused framework, and a range of better questions for a range of different contexts.  Here are just three examples:

“When this happened before, what helped to make things better?”


“What resources do you have to deal with this sort of circumstance?”


“How will you know that we have made some progress?”

To hear the story why Alan called his book, Fry the Monkeys Create a Solution, you’ll need to listen in!

Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focused

Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focused are both strength-based approaches; both work to change the organization's narrative by facilitating the members themselves to envision a future that is purposeful and positive.  Both appproaches ask very good questions to shift the narrative by having everyone contribute to the organization's most desired future.  The Quality of the questions is a significant part of both frameworks.  Appreciate Inquiry focuses strongly on personal and organizational stories as a way to identify existing strengths and capabilities which become the  foundation of how the members can move forward, meaning there is a solid ground on which to build a shared future.

Both aim to move people from hopelessness to hopefulness through better questions.

Every individual has a genius hidden inside them, and so does every organization.  By amplifying that utapped genius loudly, we can begin to recognize the genius,  embrace it, and envision how we’ll make it work.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Books Mentioned In This Episode:

“[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1456501895]
Fry The Monkeys Create A Solution: The manager's and facilitator's guide to accelerating change using Solution Focus”

“[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0470483164]
Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions: 21 Strength-Based Workshops”