Top of the news today in the UK is the story of Isabelle Holdaway, the 17 year-old who has recovered from a serious infection untreatable with antibiotics using ‘phage therapy’. Phages are viruses that eat bacteria. They have been known for a century or more, but have not been seen as a potential mainstream treatment in most circles until now.
As you are probably aware, antibiotic-resistant bacteria or ‘superbugs’ are a growing problem. Bacteria evolve, just like all life forms – and so it’s only natural that as time goes on, then evolutionary processes will result in bacteria which are adapted to survive antibiotics (which don’t evolve). Phages, being viruses, also evolve, which is what makes them so interesting and useful; as superbugs evolve, then so do the phages which attack them. What makes the Isabelle Holdaway case so interesting is that this is the first time that phages have been genetically modified (deliberately) to make them even more effective in a particular case.
Way back in 2002, Paul Jackson and I featured phage treatment in our book The Solutions Focus. It was very little known at the time. I was pleased that we could both spread the word about this interesting and different form of treatment, and also show it as a great metaphor for Solution Focused (SF) work. Here is what we wrote back in 2002:
There is a close parallel between the antibiotic and phage approaches, and conventional and Solutions Focused methods in organizations. Just as the antibiotic attacks many strains of virus, the popular business and organizational theories work quite well in many cases. In both the phage and solutions approaches, the solution that fits the situation is uniquely and efficiently selected from the whole swirling complexity of the starting point – be it the organization wanting change, or the bucket of sewage.
I was very excited to be invited to Bulgaria as the keynote speaker for Reinventing Organizations 2017. This fascinating and participative one-day event was hosted in Sofia and featured many great speakers from within Bulgaria and further afield. I set the stage by giving a 20 minute talk on ‘Working WITH change’ – ways to move away from linear approaches which assume that organisations are like machines and can be re-engineered, towards methods like Solutions Focus which assume that change is happening all the time and embrace it. I talk about ‘five myths of change’ and debunk them to leave instead five ways to work WITH change.
The video is now online – you can watch below. My talk starts at 12.00 minutes in, and is in English. Enjoy and let me know what you think.
This is a great short (six minutes) TED talk about how change is happening all the time; my favourite way of summing up solution focused work. Enjoy and comment please.
Last year I was lucky enough to be lead facilitator at the TED Fellows Collaboratorium event in New Orleans. The event was to bring together the brilliant young TED Fellows group with coaches and mentors, working on real issues in quite large groups – something of a facilitational challenge. As part of my role I wrote a facilitators’ guide, stressing (as I usually do) the importance of small steps in building a bridge between a challenging situation and a workable way forwards.
The main organiser of the event made a few changes to the guide, adding the word Kaizen (in brackets) after ‘small steps’, so it read ‘small steps (Kaizen)’. This got me wondering… how are these two philosophies related? Continue reading →
As I discussed in the previous posting in this series (https://sfworkblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/rutenso-the-art-of-thriving-in-times-of-constant-change/), rutenso is a philosophy for thriving in times of constant change. It’s the power the makes the Solution-Focused (SF) approach so interesting and different. One interesting aspect of working in environments where change is happening all the time is the big power of tiny signs. Continue reading →
Everyone knows that working in a Solutions Focus way involved focusing on solutions, right? That’s the part that everyone gets. Focus on the solution, not on the problem. Well, that’s right, of course. And… there is so much more to SF than this. I have been thinking about how to convey all the other wonderful elements of what makes SF so different, and so effective in situations where other approaches don’t seem to gain traction. So, here is my latest thinking on this – rutenso. Continue reading →