Pragmatic advice for coaches, managers & leaders

Category Archives: Coaching Philosophy

A Coaching Experiment

I have recently read a very interesting book written by Eric Ries, titled, “The Lean Startup”. It provoked a lot of thought and reflection on how I tend to go about business development. Whilst much of it was quite oriented towards tech-start-ups, some of the advice probably holds true for all businesses.

One of the central tenets outlined in the book is rather than create a perfect product or service, that it may be better to create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). The suggestion is to experiment with your MVP on a small scale, rather than wait too long finessing it in order to take it to market on a large scale. I wondered how this might transfer to coaching conversations. What if we viewed them as short experiments rather than something that can be a bit vague and sometimes quite lengthy?

Situation X

If Charlie comes to me and says “Glenn, I’d like your help with situation X that I’m struggling with” I already have an opportunity to set up my experiment: Is there a way to help Charlie resolve situation X? It is unlikely that Charlie will be using a control group for this experiment (!!) but we can explore with her if there is a way she can create a methodology to help her bring solution X to a satisfactory conclusion.

If we set up a Null Hypothesis we might posit : There is no way to resolve situation X However, let us move to an H1 or alternate hypothesis: Charlie is able to find a resolution to situation X.

Experimenting in the Real World

Now we can move forward with helping Charlie design ways to resolve the situation confronting her using our coaching skills. She will know if she has achieved her goal because once defined, she will be clear about having resolved situation X, or not. She will be getting feedback from her petri dish. She can experiment with different methods (that she generates as a result of the coaching process) and analyse the results against data that her attempts produce.

Just don’t forget that there are real people and real businesses as the lab for these experiments. So when you are coaching, be mindful that Charlie’s experiment would need to mitigate risks where possible!

Glenn Wallis is an experienced Executive Coach and Coach Developer who will help you improve your own results and those of your organisation. When you are ready to  raise your performance to the next level, find out more here

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