Solution-Focused Consultancy Work – Practice-Oriented Application of Distinction-Based Concepts Integrating Context Factors for Resilient Solutions
Tilia Stingl de Vasconcelos Guedes, Philipp Belcredi
For more than two decades now, systemic and systems-based approaches have been broadly applied in management consultancy. Numerous definitions attempt to describe the added value of a system-based consultancy—and they mostly emphasize a supposedly holistic view of problems and solutions. In Peter Senge’s work The Fifth Discipline, for instance, the organizational learning approach or systems thinking offers perspectives, methods and ideas that are still en vogue.
However, as can be seen in the daily work of a systemic consultant, the greatest impact of this kind of work on leadership issues relies on the very basic concepts of distinction-based approaches as described by George Spencer-Brown or Niklas Luhmann. Being aware that any difference, even one that is perceived as small, may be the difference and then using this awareness as an impulse in the target direction is—as it can be shown in various empirical studies (cf. Steve de Shazer or Insoo Kim Berg)—a very fast way for resilient solutions that include all relevant context factors. Working in organizations as communicating systems on the basis of differentiation/distinction rather than with content or interpretation offers us the possibility to make any goals of any type, even soft ones, manageable and controllable.
This paper uses data from an ongoing qualitative study that is part of Philipp Belcredi’s2 postgraduate work and analyses them from the point of view of theoretical concepts of distinction, second order cybernetics and social systems theory.
This theoretical analysis spots parameters in solution-focused leadership communication that produce more effective leadership outcomes, in terms of both communication and results, and that locate innovative possibilities for consultancy and leadership offered by aspects of second order observations.
 See e.g., Shazer, Steve, Putting difference to work. Norton, New York, 1991 or Shazer, Steve &. Berg Insoo Kim, 'What works'. Remarks on research aspects of solution-focused brief therapy. In: Journal of Family Therapy 19, 1997