Alan Kay

The Glasgow Group
179 Douglas Avenue
Toronto, ON, M5M 1G7, Canada.
Tel: 001 416 481 3588


Reviewed pieces of work: 1
Acted as reviewer: 0

Strategic planning the Solution Focus way for a Children’s Aid Society: How to build on the clients existing planning strategic skills and create greater alignment with customers and community stakeholders

The client (KHCAS) operates in the complex environment of children’s welfare where many complications occur in multifaceted interactions. Changing government legislation and pressure on funding, plus interaction with care providers such as healthcare, and police compound the complexity of ensuring the welfare of children is addressed efficiently and effectively. KHCAS’s goal is to protect children and ultimately keep them within their natural families.

KHCAS leadership believed management and staff were doing a good job, but could enhance their role in children’s lives by focusing on treating them, their parents and foster parents as customers, and by collaborating more effectively with other stakeholder providers. The client had an existing strategic planning approach and wanted to enhance the process for the October/November ’09 planning period. Of note, many KHCAS front-line workers had been trained in solution focus.

Working in a solution focused way first with a core planning team and then series of roundtables with parents, staff and stakeholder holders, the KHCAS conducted a solution focused planning day attended by leadership, staff and stakeholders. By first noting the strengths of KHCAS and then describing the collaborative future they wanted, a set of priorities, strategies and tactics were developed.

Candidate’s Summary:

This candidate learned from the SFCTs process that the reviewer’s rigour in looking for clues helped increase my conscious competence around a process (SF Strategic Planning) which I have practiced with a wide variety of clients for over ten years. In particular, the clue finding questions the reviewers developed for the client provided great value. Thinking about questions that would be helpful to the client added rigour to understanding of the process.

Constructing the review materials for submission added to my understanding of the depth and breadth of the approach used in the client project. This added new comprehension of my belief that the SF approach is built on a basic framework / platform which allows the client to create their own vibrant organizational strategy by building on the existing strengths of their business. It helped grow the client’s conscious competence from the very beginning of the project…the client noted that organizational self-awareness grew right from the first core team pre-planning meeting. Also, the client feedback stimulated further reinforcement that the programme was developed to work with their existing capabilities and strengths, including strategic planning, and to build value beyond the original specifications of the project.

Customer Quotations:

It enhanced foster parent engagement and revealed their interest in playing a broader role in services we deliver. It also revealed the parents’ positive view of our services even when it meant surrendering their children. Our board became more interested in client and partner feedback and it brought all stakeholders closer together. In future we would put an even greater effort into getting children and parent engaged in the process. We intend to ‘borrow’ the SF focus on small changes that can lead to broader changes in the future. KHCAS – Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society’s web site.

Reviewers Summary:

This case showed a clear structured and simple piece of work in strategic planning. It is especially impressive to see how Alan within every part of the work uses a brief and effective SF approach that allows the client’s organization unique circumstances to be observed and noticed. This is a clear example of a Solution Focused piece of work with a clear beginning, middle and an end. The case is an excellent example of how discovering client strengths and what already works contributes to success and where emerging processes with stakeholders makes a difference. What is particularly impressive is Alan’s expertise in navigating throughout the process by combining the SF skills of an very experienced practitioner with the ‘eyes of a beginner’. His work is distinctive in that it is based on the client being the expert, creating trust, cooperation and workable goals, and where Alan delivers everything requested by the client with many additional bonuses and benefits. We have throughout the review, observed and discovered convincing examples of qualities in SF practice as well as seeing how Solution Focus informs the overall process.

Lead reviewer: Björn Johansson
Second reviewer: Shaun Lincoln

About The Candidate:

Alan Kay learned solution focus from SFBT family therapy trainers. He saw immediate success with business clients by simply translating SF into the client’s language. He offers his clients solutions in strategic and operational planning, customer experience implementation and, more recently SF training and management development. His many clients range from large banks, to educators, to film festival organizers. His work is based on the entire continuum of the engagement; that the change the client wants starts happening right away; be most pronounced in the main activity and sustain afterwards via follow-through.

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