The Online Journal of Solution Focus in Organisations

Vol 11 – No 1 – August 2019 – Page 8

SOLWorld 2019 Conversations on Agile

Attila Molnár, Roy Mariott, Daniel Meier & Elvira Kalmar, Ralph Miarka & Veronika Kotrba

This conference was beautifully organised by an agile team who succeeded in moving locations at the last minute and still creating the space for amazing conversations and ideas to emerge. In this series, you will find articles, videos, interviews and presentations exploring different perspectives on how SF and Agile compliment each other in project work, team work and much more. Enjoy!

1. Solution-Focused Toolbox for Agile Transformation

Attila Molnár


Agility is a lot more than a buzzword that fills every corporate discussion. Agility is a way of doing things, a way of learning. The novelty here is that the environment that makes this form of learning effective is very different from the corporate environments that leaders have experienced in the last “few” decades.

In my workshop:

  • I wanted to demonstrate three basic principles that shape agility as a learning process in organisations.
  • I wanted all the participants to have a vivid and living experience of how individuals and teams feel and behave in an environment that represents these three principles.

So, we used an exercise that is very useful for demonstration.

Then, as a learning team does, we reflected on these experiences from an SF perspective in an SF way. Next, we had a short discussion about what participants could harvest from this brief experiment with agility.

The 3 Principles

  1. Built-in instability is created by a low-structured environment where goals are very clear but the way there is not known, therefore not specified; teams have to find their own ways to a solution. Teams have to change their habits, processes and ways of thinking; this can be very stressful, but necessary for something very new to rise.
  2. Subtle control is a state of a coach’s mind (in organisations, a leader’s mind), which represents the intention to create and maintain a space for experiments towards the clearly specified goal. As soon as control gets too intense, teams become more relaxed and start to expect guidance on what to do. In an agile environment, these guidelines are very subtle to create and maintain space for the team to learn.
  3. Learning is the fundamental and only process that enables teams and organisations to adapt to unknown, complex and volatile environments. This is a very simple, yet very powerful and effective “tool” that coaches must facilitate in order to help teams work better. It is a constant reflection on where we are now, what is different than before and where we head next.

The experience one has in an agile environment where one applies these principles, is very similar to the experience in a coaching process.

  • The goal is very clear (after a while, and it changes sometimes), but the way there is not, since we have never done something like this before.
  • We coaches are in a state of mind, where we silently witness our clients as they try different “experiments” and sometimes they are frustrated.
  • Finally, as we proceed, we stop for a minute and reflect on each and every tiny detail of change.

Agility and Solution Focus are synonymous in the sense that the basic and fundamental value of both is learning and becoming something better in a way that we never imagined, before using these approaches.


I’ll invite you all to meet at the cross-roads of corporate agile transformations and Solution Focused practices. Let’s discover how these two, seemingly different worlds can support each other, with our best hopes to provide a living experience on our Toolbox that we, Solution-Focused Agile practitioners use in our daily life when helping individuals, teams and companies grow into this new way of work.

Let me share my experiences on how SF tools and practices can make these dramatic and sometimes painful changes easier and much more effective, even enjoyable and let yourselves find your own.

An interview with Attila Molnar


I’m an SF hearted, organizational psychologist and agile practitioner with 15 years of experience in helping teams and organizations through change.

I teach in different Hungarian universities, published a few research papers on agile mindset and developed an assessment tool that helps teams follow their progress in their transformation and make their sings of progress loud and clear and transparent.

I worked with start-up teams and large multinational companies in Hungary and abroad with one strong intention: to help these teams and companies find their OWN agility and their OWN path there while enjoying the process every single day (or at least week).

2. The Zone of Productive Change

Roy Marriott (Shakya Kumara)


In this workshop (usually called “Generating Change without Generating Resistance”), we cover:

  • Scenarios where we’re experiencing Resistance
  • Antipatterns to change – and how to avoid them
  • The Zone of Productive Change – and how to expand it
  • Engagement and motivation for change – and how to generate it
  • A 7 step model for Generating Change without generating Resistance

This is a practical workshop where we have a live example of change people want to generate – where there either is or could be some resistance.

As we go through the workshop, you can apply the exercises to your specific example, generating new perspectives and possible action steps. The aim is that by the end you’ll have identified a small step you can take back to work to really make a difference.

Audio of the session

Video of the session

Interview with Roy Marriott

Download Roy’s workshop slides in PDF format


I’ve been using SF since 1993, training managers and coaches in SF since 2005, mainly with Mark McKergow and Jenny Clarke’s SFWork, and Kirsten Dierolf’s Solutions Academy.

I’ve created a number of SF models, including iFLOW Time Mastery, RADAR anti-procrastination, MAGIC negotiation, R4 Delegation, Brief Mindfulness stress reduction/focus enhancement and the ORA solution focus lens.

My current focus is on applying SF to the world of Agile software development and Agile Transformation. In this world I’ve changed my name (back) to Roy Marriott – but many of you know me by my Buddhist name of Shakya Kumara.

3. Beyond Agile – Building Self-Managing Teams

Daniel Meier and Elvira Kalmar


Going agile and becoming adaptive is a trend in big and small organisations all over the World. We are quite convinced that “Agile” is just a label and method to get more self-organised and adaptive, which is not fitting for each and every team/organisation. The Art is to co-create with the actual team their unique way of self-organised work.

We share a case study with you about a leader’s challenge in a big multinational company in Hungary building up an adaptive team in a co-creative way. We will create an interactive space together with you to identify how solution focused mindset was used in this process. And we would like even to broaden the perspective and collect what other solution focused tools would be useful for leaders in order to develop adaptive, self-managing teams.

Summarising the pre-conference workshop at the SOLworld Conference in Budapest, 2019 by Daniel Meier and Elvira Kalmar

Can you create a self-managing team in a highly hierarchical organisation? Do you have to wait until a whole company is re-designed and transformed, or can change happen bottom-up and sporadically in organisations?

We believe change is life and evolution is constant. We have brought a real-life case to share and work with at this pre-conference workshop to prove this. Our best hope was to give confidence to our participants that they are all work (r)evolutionist and SF offers a wide range of tools they can use to make work and collaboration more effective and fun.

The title suggests that there is more to Agile than its new cross-functional structures, new roles and rituals. Every team, function, department and organisation can work out in small steps what works best for them to achieve their goals and purpose and can offer an opportunity to its members to grow in the meantime, as an individual.

We have presented the situation with its challenges at the entry point, from the perspective of the new leader.  We offered the participants to work in small groups on what they would do if they had just landed in this position.

After the small group work, we moved on to share how Elvira tackled this situation and what SF tools she has used as a leader to build the professional confidence of team-members  and develop cohesion in the team. We also explained how individuals self-assigning to a task has out-ruled delegation and how the common purpose of the team leads every action.

Then we presented the results of these actions – the successes, the excellent team spirit and the high performing and high energy team. Of course, with the new developments, new challenges arose, and we offered the participants the opportunity to work on these challenges in self-assigned groups around five challenges.

The last challenge was on a different level. After three years the team became a department, growing from 15 to 35. So, all the good ways Elvira and her team built, for how to work together, to co-create, to develop their work, became impossible. At this point, Elvira used an even more participative way to co-create: the use of Open Space technology to develop together what the team does and how it works together.

The 3 hours workshop with the small group work around the challenges, was just enough to give an overview of the case, inspire participants to see the situation from the leaders’ point of view and experience the way the team was working together at different stages. It also showcased a wide range of SF tools one can use; from interviewing, through on-boarding and performance motivation, all the way to continuous team-alignment to the ever-changing objectives and key results.

An online version of this workshop is available in a Webinar format: for new dates check out our website:



Daniel Meier

Daniel is a Coach, trainer and mentor for Brief Coaches for 17 years. As co-founder and owner of Solutionsurfers he is a worldwide acting facilitator for SF Coaching Programmes and author of several books about it.

Elvira Kalmar

Elvira’s passion is organisation development and design: she is a well-known face and a thought leader of the European organisation design and development community. Experienced in working with NGO’s, start-ups, SMBs and big multinationals- recently as Head of Magyar Telekom’s People and Organisation Development Department, she brings the SF mindset into OD.


Contributors – Ralph Miarka & Veronika Kotrba


We noted that the term “Agile Coaching” leads to some confusion within some parts of the coaching community. Is this a new kind of coaching? What kind of coaching is this? What evidence do we have of Agile Coaching? Is there a recorded session of Agile Coaching that I could watch to observe Agile Coaching in action? Why do I see “agile coaching” and “Agile Coaching” – is this the same?

In our session, we want to clarify the term “Agile Coaching” and connect it with the solution-focused approach in coaching. We hope to support both Agile Coaches and solution-focused coaches and to contribute to the discussion

Download in PDF format



We wrote the book on “Agile Teams lösungsfokussiert coachen” – Ralph is an “Agile Coach” while Veronika is a solution-focused coach. Ralph is also a trained and practicing SF coach and Veronika works also with agile teams.

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