Person Centered Thinking Tools
Problem Solving Tools – Everyday Practice

Working/Not Working
Analyzes an issue/situation across multiple perspectives. Provides a picture of how things are right now.


As a negotiation tool it helps meet three of the core elements of negotiation:

  • All must feel listened to – their perspectives accurately reflected
    • – Start with common ground; – where there is agreement
    • – Work in partnership
  • Done well it reflects current reality
    • – Start with common ground; – where there is agreement
    • – Work in partnership
  • It helps “peel the onion”
    • – Gives opportunities to ask the question behind the question
    • – Dig deeper to find more meaningful information
  • It serves as a bridge to action planning by helping the user learn
    • – What needs to be maintained/enhanced?
    • – What needs to change?


This tool works best when it is focused; select one specific issue/scenario or part of a person’s life to discuss within the working/not working grid.


  • Make sure that all of the people who represent the key perspectives are present
  • To learn and effectively represent the person’s perspective talk to the person before the meeting.
  • Make it easy for people to write up their perspectives, post 2 sheets of pre-labeled (working, make sense, the up side/not working doesn’t make sense the down side) flips chart pages per perspective
  • Once everyone has completed their pages review what everyone has written with the group and talk about what the possible next steps would be