SIMPLE Coaching Principles

The SIMPLE coaching principles form the backbone of the Solutions Focused Approach to coaching and when applied along with the OSKAR coaching model help to ensure a really effective conversation that takes the coachee towards a solution.

Here is a summary of the 6 principles:

  • Solutions not problems
  • In-between – the action is the interaction
  • Make use of what’s there
  • Possibilities – past, present and future
  • Language – clarify and understand
  • Every case is different

Below I have given my own interpretation of each of these principles. 

Solo Build It!

Solutions not problems

A solutions focused conversation is focused on moving the coachee towards the solution rather than wasting time dwelling on the problem. This means that solutions focused questions should be asked such as `what would you like to achieve’ rather than ‘what is the problem’ and what progress have you made so far? rather than what are the barriers to moving forward?

In-between – the action is the interaction

This is about ensuring that the coaching conversation is based on what has been said between the coach and coachee during the coaching session and not what the coach has heard or learnt about the coachee outside of it. This means that the coach brings no pre-conceived ideas or ‘baggage’ to the session whatever they have heard about the coachee before hand nor do they bring their own solutions. Instead it is about listening non-judgementally to the coachee and building on what they have said to help them find their own solution.

So take the example of a manager coaching her team member…no matter what she knows about this person she will put that to one side and listen to what the coachee is saying and help them find a way forward without putting her own thoughts, ideas and opinions forward.

Make use of what’s there

Raising your coachee’s awareness of the resources they have available within them to reach a solution can be so much more empowering than giving them the ideas and solutions. By asking the right questions you can help your coachee to realize their strengths, recall what’s worked well in the past and for others and build their confidence that they can move forward.


Linking in with the SIMPLE coaching principles helps to raise your coachee’s awareness of all their resources so they can identify a whole range of possibilities they have open to them before they decide on a course of action.


It is essential to clarify any ‘big’ words used by the coachee so there is an explicit understanding of what is meant. So if your coachee talks about ‘success,’ ‘strategy’ or ‘communication’ it is about picking up on these words and clarifying what is meant. ‘Language’ is also about ensuring you are using the same words a coachee rather than interpreting and using your own jargon – this really helps to build rapport and stay on your coachee’s wavelength.

Every case is different

Here you are recognizing that each coachee is different and so one solution does not fit all. This in turn suggests that the best person therefore to identify their solution is the coachee, him or herself, so your role as a coach is to ask questions to help them rather than give advice or suggest ideas.

Further Reading:

If you want to learn more about the SIMPLE coaching principles then this is definitely the book to read:- 

The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE by Paul Z Jackson and Mark McKergow (Paperback - 14 Dec 2006) 

See Also:-

Different Coaching Approaches
Solutions Focused Coaching
Non Directive Coaching
Directive Coaching
Values Based Coaching
Content Focused Coaching
Goal Focused Coaching
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) coaching
OSKAR Coaching Model

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