I got a mail. And then I started thinking because of this mail. And then I asked if I could publish this short mail correspondence. Got a yes, made a small editorial intervention to make the text more obvious.

I hope you will find just as inspiring as I do. Thank you Svea for mailing!

Be aware that Svea asks to field of coaching and I answer in the field of large groups/consultancy. That’s what I call useful misunderstandings.


11/10/2012 | Svea van der Hoorn wrote:


Hi Jesper,

What pricked my curiosity is your decision to use the name “briefcoach.net”.

I’d appreciate some discussion with you about what Brief signals for you different from Solution-focus/ed in relation to coaching.

This is a discussion I keep returning to and recently at SOL I was surprised to hear that because many people associate “brief” with “brief therapy” and they don’t want the “therapy” reference they throw out brief too.

I looked across the pages to see in what way you refer to “brief” but didn’t find anything – only solution-focus?? So, now very curious.



12/10/2012 | I then made these (to me) useful misunderstandings:


Hi Svea,

Thanks for the questions! To be honest I haven’t given it much thought. Until you send me this mail. I’m not sure if you ask to the coaching part but I’ll reflect on it in a consultant context and a context of working with large groups and working with organisations. Well most of the questions I used comes from brief coaching anyway.

First things first
The word “brief” I’ve learnt from Solutionsurfers. Then Kati Hankovszky once had a domain called brief-learning.com (not anymore). When I realised that briefcoach.net was available I simply bought for Kati and me.

But now that you ask…
Here’s some thoughts thanks to your mail. I have taken the liberty to focus on working with large groups and not (just) coaching. Simply because your question started a lot of thoughts in that direction.

What does “brief” signal to me?
Brief is the perfect word for working with teams and large groups and with organisational development. How could I forget that?

My experience is that my clients really like the idea that it can be brief. Getting 50 – 100 – 200 or more people together in an organisation cost a lot of money.

I’m convinced that activating the resources of the staff instead of only letting the management alone develop new strategies or initiatives that influences the organisation, is much more economical viable. But the most visible thing the client will see — in the beginning – is a staff not doing their normal job but instead sitting around tables having intimate conversations = loss of money.

So talking with clients on how to be brief in the process is really appealing to them. And to me too! I don’t do entertainment. I want people to be efficient with their time together with me and my finest role is to get out of there as fast as possible.

[ That’s by the way an excellent (an fun) sales phrase: “let’s have a look at how fast you can get rid of me in this job you want me to do. What will be a sign to you that this is on the right way, things are developing exactly how you want it and I’m not needed anymore?” ]

So for organisations it goes something like this:

Why brief interventions make sense

Brief means turning problem talk into solutions talk
– Don’t become an expert in problems (what’s not working), instead experts in solutions (what could work out). Save time and focus on what needs to happen, instead of what is constraining.

Brief means examining the wished for change or development in details
– Imagining the outcome of a wanted result or effect – how will it be experienced on all levels of the organisation – helps adjusting goals, changes, the development, etc. Make clear what the benefit is for all involved parts.

Brief means looking at what works already
– Don’t invent or develop something all from scratch if somewhere in the organisation something is already happening (at least just a little bit) like you want it to. It’s a shortcut to the organisations own resources and to where you can take advantage of what is already going on.

Brief means setting clear tangible goals
– Let people in the organisation set their own individual or team goals as soon as they have understood the best hopes of the overall goal. Let them find out the best way to get there themselves.

Brief means focus on first small steps
– Everything is changing all the time. Don’t waste time on long term action plans where the knowhow is in risk of getting outdated fare too soon. Instead focus on the first step of individual or teams and build on these experiences.

It’s fare from all thought through. You have definitely made me decide to write in the word “brief” in SF approach to large groups. It makes so much sense (to me).

Best wishes,


14/10/2012 | Svea van der Hoorn answered back:


Hi Jesper,

Thanks for sharing your reflective thinking with me.

Some extra bits – for me being Brief includes Ockham’s razor idea – offer / engage / do sufficient, no more, no less. So, one session / great gathering may be enough or there may be 20 sessions or 4 sessions spread over 2 years etc., etc.

So, working Briefly has less to do with being quick, short etc and more to do with being purposeful and benefit-creating connected. Or perhaps that should be benefit co-creating connected?

I keep returning to Chris, Harvey and Evan’s work as I experience them as staying with developing their thinking and practice to work Briefly.

Microanalysis too is offering information about what happens between practitioners and clients that clients report as sufficient to get them from stuck to moving again.

And that is another thing I draw on – do enough together with clients so they leave unstuck. It’s not necessary to do all the rehearsing and practising in sessions that often people think is essential for clients to create improvement in their lives.

And improvement in their lives and work may turn out looking different from what they started to imagine in the conversation with the practitioner, hence the usefulness of “look out for / do anything that can take you towards your best hopes / the benefits you’d like to see in your work/life”. This is quite different from working out an action plan and specifying next steps and clients leaving with specified, detailed homework tasks.

Hmmm … I’m very happy this topic is somehow managing to stay alive. Thank you.

Best wishes,