The Secrets of Magical Scaling
Scaling is a very effective tool in measuring progress in any change program. As a tool for coaching it can lead to magical results (here). Most people, even children, can create a scale from 0 to 10. It is a very simple tool but not always easy to use. For optimum use there are a few secrets to adhere to.
First and foremost it requires a clear definition of what 0 and what 10 represents on the scale. I like to help the client to first define 10 in terms of what is wanted instead of the problem. What does the preferred future look like? What would be different then? What would we do differently? What would other stakeholders experience at 10? What would be the benefits to everybody at 10? Spend enough time to get a rich description of what is wanted. This shifts the conversation from problem talk to solutions talk as well as creates hope and energy. The 0 on the scale will then be simply the total opposite of 10.
Now the client can position themselves in the here and now on the scale between 0 and 10. Let’s call it position “n”. What is important is not so much “n” but what lies between 0 and “n”. What is already present in terms of what is wanted? What is already working well? What is already in place to enable progress towards 10? What small signs of the preferred future can already be seen? An important question could also be: Have you ever been higher than “n” in the past? If so: What did you do differently then? How did you do it? Can this be repeated here and now? The space between 0 and “n” should be carefully and extensively examined. Here lie the resources, the strengths and the clues to what is already working that can be utilized for making progress towards 10. It represents the building blocks for the solution. This often leads to a change in perspective that things are not as bad as expected and also creates confidence that a solution can be realized.
A next step in the scaling process is then to determine what “n”+1 or even “n”+0.5 on the scale would look like. What would be the logical next step to move up the scale? What would progress look like? What do we have to get right to do that? What would be the benefits of that? The secret lies in taking small steps that is realistic and achievable. It should be a small step that is under our control and would be the difference that makes a difference. Getting to our desired future is a process of small steps and not a giant leap. The secret is to escape a situation of inertia and to start building momentum towards what we want. Taking a small step accomplishes that and more often than not has a snowball effect.
Image from Coert Visser’s Blog: http://articlescoertvisser.blogspot.com/2009/02/solution-focused-scaling-questions.html