Constructive Creativity

Constructive Creativity

Constructive Creativity & Innovation

Over the past few years, it has become clear that ongoing innovation and creativity can increase a company’s competitive advantage, bring focus to the customer experience, and even increase employee retention, as satisfaction soars. But what is the key to nurturing a truly innovative and create environment that produces bottom-line results? Here are some elements that are associated with highly creative team.

Environment: Many people do not consider themselves to be very creative. They may even be reluctant to participate in innovation and creative thought exercises. Help these team members build their confidence by ensuring that innovation and creative problem-solving are part of the fabric of their everyday work life.

A relatively low-effort way to do this is to post descriptions of dilemmas and challenges that groups are experiencing on an internal message board. Encourage everyone on the team to take 10 minutes each day to read through the challenges. Urge them to add questions about the challenge that helps clarify it, or suggestions and references, that may help solve the problem. Even if they are reluctant to add their own challenges at first, keeping the focus on defining, iterating, and solving problems will help accustom the team to important innovation and creativity skills.

Build Creativity Muscle: Someone who wishes to become a runner will not succeed by only doing bench presses. Whether you wish to become a marathoner, or compete in the Highland Games, there are specific exercise programs and routines that will help you work the muscles needed to meet your goals. Creativity is like a muscle. The more we exercise our creativity, the stronger it becomes. But we must walk before we run!

There are six (6) elements, or phases, that are key to innovation & creativity.

1. Problem definition
2. Ideation of solutions
3. Selection of most feasible solution(s)
4. Resource definition
5. Development & testing
6. Impact assessment & iteration

Frequently, creativity and innovation exercises fail due to ill-defined or incorrect problem statements. Starting every planning session, meeting, and/or project debrief with a simple question: ’What is the single most important questions we should be asking here/at this time?’ (and allowing discussion about it), helps to train the team’s ‘problem definition muscle’; to think in terms of expected results and priorities.

Conversation: Creativity and innovation flourish where meaningful discussion and disagreement are embraced and encouraged. Throughout the organization, managers can enhance their team’s problem-solving ability by fostering an environment that challenges the status quo and celebrates discussing ‘difficult topics’. For creativity to truly flourish, meaningful conversation – and the openness to challenge boundaries – must become embedded in the day-to-day life of the organisation.

Activation Phrases: Leaders can use specific phrases such as ‘time to get creative!’ or ‘what’s the most over-the-top idea we can come up with?’ to signal that it is time to think outside of the box… without negative repercussions. It is important to design activation phrases that work for your environment… and use them consistently. Take time to design phrases that signal your expectations and take into consideration any boundaries that exist.

Leverage Diversity: The reality is that different people have different strengths and natural dispositions. The Hogan Assessment measures several dimensions related to creativity and innovation. Of course, Inquisitiveness (HPI) and Imagination (HDS) are main indicators of strength in this area, but scores in Recognition (MVPI), Altruistic (MVPI), Reserved (HDS) and/or Prudent (HPI), for example, can influence whether it is easier or more difficult to engage a person in the creative process – especially if they deviate from the team’s norm.

Understanding the building blocks of innovation & creativity, along with your team’s individual profiles, allows you to set your team up for constructive creativity and innovation success. But, like any skill worth developing, it takes focus, structure, and a bit of time and tenaciousness.

This article is part of a series that focus on psychometric assessment as an integral component of building a team’s self-awareness. For more information about Hogan Assessments and other awareness-building tools & training, contact

Expand Your Horizon, Use Your Mind

Expand Your Horizon, Use Your Mind

A few weeks ago, on World Creativity & Innovation Day, I had an interesting conversation with a client that started with a blanket statement – that frankly made me chortle. “Oh, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I leave that to the …” (naming a single team within the organisation?)

Considering the staggering amount of research that points directly to the fact that we are all ‘hard-wired’ toward being creative, sometimes I think we just need a reminder… Just a bit of a push to reignite our creative confidence. Here is a list of actions we, as individuals, can take to ensure we have the best chance to be creative, and reach our full potential – although I’m not actually sure that there is an endpoint to be reached.

  1. Be curious. Acquire knowledge. Embrace new experiences and information. Be a generalist. Pay attention to things around you and learn new skills that take you out of your comfort zone. Be excited to learn… about anything!
  2. Embrace failure. Revel in the experience of failure and make sure you look at any failure, yours, and others’, from many different perspectives.
  3. Be disciplined. Don’t let your mind be lazy. Look beyond the easiest answer or solution. Push yourself to come up with the extra 20 potential solutions, even if you know that most will be discarded.
  4. Look beyond your ego. Follow the old adage, ‘walk a mile in their shoes’. Look at the situation or problem from another perspective – really take on the persona of someone else and think about how they would think about this problem. The ‘What would do?” really works. Whether that name is Melinda Gates, Albert Einstein, Madonna, or Jesus – even if you don’t agree with their philosophy or way of life – taking on the persona of someone else while you think about a problem or challenge, brings you to another reality and opens your mind to other possibilities.
  5. Look for incremental improvements. Ask, “If there was only 1 thing that we could improve (change, remove, reverse, …) in this process (activity, report, job, …) what would it be?” or “What 2 or 3 things could we combine to improve this system (perspective, strategy, …) to make it better?”

A recent article by Fast Company is an elegant illustration of some of these strategies. The idea started with a random comment at a breakfast. It brought together information about terrible animal cruelty with new genetic technology and will not only create a more humane solution for a problem plaguing a low-margin industry, but improve economics as well.

Gracefully Setting Boundaries

Gracefully Setting Boundaries

Frequently, when someone hears the word ‘assertive’ they think of aggression or about someone who is very good at saying no. Assertiveness, is actually about being able to keep your cool and being self-aware. 

Assertiveness begins with recognising our own emotions, and our emotional reaction to different situation. When we are faced with challenging situations, it is normal to become uncomfortable or even a bit irritated. Sometimes, we want to take positive steps toward resolving the problem, but may not be able to clear our head enough to see how we might change it.

Assertive people develop an ability to separate themselves from what they are feeling. They are able to centre themselves enough to see the real problem, from their point of view, but also from the other’s. They are able to withdraw emotions enough to see potential win‑win solutions. They develop a knack for making a point gracefully – without being aggressive.

Anyone can develop their assertive side. The benefits include lowered stress and seeing an improvement in your experience of important relationships. Being assertive allows you to consciously make a choice about what you are willing to accept in others and what surpasses your boundaries. It allows you to bring issues and challenges into focus and resolve them calmly.  

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy. You will not always react to the same stimuli in the same (balanced) manner. It depends upon your level of ‘consciousness’ and what else is going on around you. Assertiveness is an intellectual muscle that must be exercised to grow. The earlier in your life you learn to be assertive, the easier it is to continue to develop your boundary setting. But almost anyone can learn to be at least a bit more assertive.

Assertiveness is about respecting yourself as well as those around you. It’s about using cues and setting clear boundaries that will allow you to look for the win-win. Above all, assertiveness is about freedom. The freedom to release old ‘stories’ and ‘descriptors’ that no longer serve you. The freedom to ask for what you need in a relationship while still honouring the other individual’s right to choose to align with your suggestion. As you become more assertive about your needs, you may not sustain all of the relationships around you, but the ones that last will add more value and bring more joy. 

Is Coaching Enough? Structured Conversations to Level Up

Is Coaching Enough? Structured Conversations to Level Up

Due, at least in part, to the convergence of a huge change in responsibly management with increased ‘survival stress’ brought on by the pandemic, employees are suffering record levels of mental distress. Whether it is a feeling of being overwhelmed with conflicting demands from work and home, or cascading toward the verge of full-blown burnout due to an inability to ‘turn-off’ at what should be the end of the day, some people are reaching their ‘stress saturation’ point.

Don’t get me wrong, of course I believe in coaching! It leverages external knowledge and resources to significantly contribute to a thriving and positively evolving work environment. But if using external coaches is as far as you go, you’re probably missing essential components that will help ensure a healthy and inspiring atmosphere – where everyone feels included, understood, and supported… and therefore, better able to take steps to manage their stress levels.  

Structured Peer-to-Peer Dialogue & Support

Structured conversations provide an outlet for team mates to release their anxiety in a healthy and incremental manner. It allows even the most introverted on the team to connect with a buddy safely. During a Kitchen Table Conversation (KTC) on this topic, one of my clients commented, “If you have to say, ‘this is a safe space’, it probably isn’t”.

Especially in a time when both physical and mental isolation is taking a massive toll, applying a structures approach to encouraging individual employees to connect with each other offers everyone the chance, no matter their position or level in the organisation, to feel effectively supported. Structured peer-to-peer dialogue can go far to making sure that no one falls through the cracks.

How To…

There is a widely held belief that if we approach peer-to-peer programs with good intentions… if we outline the purpose and define the goals clearly, the rest will take care of itself. This could not be farther from reality. As well as 1) setting up guidelines for the program, we must 2) create a structure that includes the whole population, 3) set acceptable behavioural norms, 4) model the required interaction, and finally, 4) we must ensure that staff have the tools & knowledge they need to succeed.

An easy starting point is to provide a list of topics for the structured interaction (much like we do during training programs) and a guide that outlines the type of behaviour required to ensure success.

Structured conversations, whether attached to external or internal mentoring, coaching, accountability partnerships, or peer support programs, can be a refreshing source of energy. They are another vehicle for uniting your team, enlivening empathy, and invigorating meaningful exchange.

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Programmatic Organisational Transformation

Programmatic Organisational Transformation

Size and Complexity Matters… or does it?

Many of my colleagues know my penchant for templates and checklists. Whether they have taken a course with me on Personal Branding (shout-out to all my Super-power students) or followed my guidance to build a better business plan, they know that if I can provide a template, I will.

I realised years ago that providing templates and checklists allows the user to see all the computations and permeations of possibility, without limiting their own thinking. In fact, templates and checklists free our minds from the minutia so that we are better able to strategically about what we are doing.

It’s not all the same, but is it that different?

Programmatic Organisational Transformation Management (POTM) works in the same way. It posits that, despite many arguments to the contrary, Organisational Change Management (OCM) activities don’t have to be limited to a few external or internal experts. OCM does not have to be the sole domain of highly trained, and paid, consultants and change agents. Instead of cloaking the transformation process and its associated procedures in mystery, POTM seeks to provide a standard roadmap that takes away about 80% of the guesswork.

The power behind programmatic transformation is that the theory is paired with standardized checklists and templates that can be used to ensure that every step is covered, or at least considered, during a transformation initiative. It provides a matrix that allows you to think in terms of size and complexity. It frees our minds of the stress and uncertainty related to ‘The Complexity of Change’ and demonstrates that even the most complex transformation initiative has standardised approaches and procedures that can be leveraged to ease the journey.

Integral to the POTM process is handling four (4) areas . When written out, it seems simple, but the trick is knowing how deeply to go into any of the areas and what is truly required at each stage.

POTM provides a roadmap to guide teams through the details of change, but more, it instils an understanding of the strategic management of transformation. It focuses energy on ‘planned transitions’ that allow your employees to look ahead. It allows the population to understand that a break from the additional activity that inevitably accompanies a change in the organisation or transformational initiative, will soon come. It signals that allowing a rest and rejuvenate period before another initiative begins, is part of the process.

Not all transformation is the same but, even in very complex, large-scale transformation, there are reproducible, systematic underlying patterns that can be exploited to provide a relatively easy-to-follow roadmap to success.

Register for the Course here.

‘Bums in Seats’ or Organisational Achievement?

‘Bums in Seats’ or Organisational Achievement?

One of the key issues that managers faced as the Covid-19 isolation period started, and remote working kicked in, was monitoring, and tracking employee status. In other words, they weren’t sure who was working, and who wasn’t, without going to extraordinary measures. Employees, in return, became glued to their keyboard, or conversely would take measures such as turning off their global chat functions so that others on the team could not see the ‘away from my desk’ status icon appearing after a few minutes of inactivity.

The knock-on effect? Instead of a quick ‘chat’ on the shared application, the team member would have to call or write a more formal email. It became more difficult to get information that could have been transmitted with one line on the chat. This increased stress levels in workers and team leaders alike and impacted productivity negatively.

Years ago, I read a study that indicated that for every 5 people working in an office, the equivalent of almost 1 day (yes, 8 hours) of work was ‘lost’ to occurrences such as: multiple people waiting for one person who was late for a meeting; individuals being asked to, and attending meetings, that had no direct relevance to their work deliverables; idle chatter; surfing the internet; going for longer coffee and/or smoke breaks, etc. At the time, I was doing research for a programme that would help employees manage their time more effectively, but this sparked a bigger question in my mind; ‘Is anyone looking at organisational achievement tied to time management?’. With the advent of remote working, we could assume that teams automatically became more productive as they recouped at least some of that ‘lost time’.  

With vaccinations being rolled out across the world, the conversation about work time and work location is heating up. It is a great opportunity to redefine expectations and to talk about Meaningful Strategic Management. The main concept is a focus on the level of output and quality of work which impacted the delivery of priority activities, not how much time employees spent at work (in Canada, the colloquial terms was ‘bums in seats’), whether working remotely or in the office.

When I coach managers, I use 3 key messages:

1. Focus on What Matters

I’m sure at least once in our career, we’ve heard some version of the old lament…. ‘They only got promoted because they stay late every evening! But what are they doing?? Surfing the net!!

Still today, many corporations reward people for the time they spend at their desk and not the quality of work or achieving their deliverables. Focusing on deliverables and allowing team members to work according to a schedule or rhythm that fits them, actually frees team members and managers to focus on the more strategic components of the jobs.

By negotiating deliverables and the timing around those ‘chunks of work’, managers are also teaching their staff a valuable lesson in workload management and influencing skills. Moving to the ‘deliverables’ method of team management soon shows who the high performers are. It also allows a conversation to begin about which activities truly support the goals and mission of the organisation. Focusing on deliverables and not the time someone spends staring at a screen, provides a clearer view of the effort required for each activity. A real advantage for any corporation!

2. The 3 x 2 Rule

Most people are not able to work or concentrate steadily on one activity all day. No matter what type of work, there will be tasks that require immense concentration and others that are rote. Everyone needs to take breaks, ‘switch gears’ or just take a step back from high-pressure activities. It is incumbent upon managers to encourage staff to follow a rhythm that allows them to produce great, high-quality work product without exhausting themselves.

Throughout my career, I have used the ‘3 x 2 rule’ with my teams. I ask them to focus on important and critical deliverables for 3, 2-hour segments each day. Between these 2-hour segments, they can answer email, grab a coffee, complete non-urgent, non-essential tasks, follow up with a colleague, or take a walk to clear their head – in other words, do anything that helps keep their mind sharp for the next 2-hour segment of work. Syncing up the 2-hour segments so that that whole team has uninterrupted time to work can be very productive – and liberating. How many times have you just gotten back into a complex spreadsheet or project plan to be interrupted by a colleague who could have easily waited an hour for the answer to their question.

The great thing about using the ‘3 x 2 rule’ is that by the end of the day, the agreed upon deliverables are complete, and the team leaves work with a feeling of accomplishment. I have worked with teams from Canada to Kazakhstan and have always seen great results and superb motivation from this method.

3. Value Strategic Voids

Before I describe this approach, an important caveat is that in my career of 40+ years, I have never, ever worked with a high performer who wasn’t always on the lookout for the next big project, a way to improve a process, or a million other things that would keep them busy. In fact, the manager who feels they must fill every minute of a high-performer’s schedule, is doing themselves as big a disservice as they are doing the company.

Clearly, this approach works best in teams built on mutual respect and a strategic understanding of high value output. It does not work if the manager keeps piling non-essential work on their best performers – which can, of course, be perceived as punishing high performers for being able to work more quickly and/or efficiently than others. Giving work that can be done by administrative or other staff, to a high performer, defeats the purpose of grooming top talent.

At the foundation of giving more autonomy to team members, is the manager’s strategic understanding of engagement and motivation toward achieving priority corporate activities. The underlying behaviour required is daunting. If a team member asks to off-load work or tries to refuse new work, it requires the manager to have a meaningful conversation!! 😉 And… to really listen! This simple, but difficult behaviour = listening and negotiating – is Integral to ensuring your top talent’s time is optimized.

By valuing strategic voids – especially if it allows someone to concentrate on work that requires more expertise (therefore higher value-add), the manager sends a message about what is important for the team and the organisation.

Following these three simple tenants allows the team to reap the incredible results that stem from one guiding principle: Focus on strategic deliverables, not ‘busy work’.

Want to learn more about time and strategic workload management?

Check out our courses, or book a session with one of our Organisational Coaches.

The Power of Candid Conversations

The Power of Candid Conversations

An interesting thing happens when someone feels empowered to participate in, or better yet, to be the catalysts for candid conversations. They feel less alone, less isolated from others on the team. They become more willing and able to share their thoughts in a constructive and encouraging manner. They are more interested in listening to others. They pay attention to the conversation.

The Kitchen Table Conversation (KTC) approach to interaction teaches participants to let go of their personal agenda, removes barriers, and sets the stage for gracious and participatory candid conversations. The KTC methodology is more than just a vehicle to cultivate and funnel innovative ideas or to generate greater creativity. It encourages candid dialogue that enable tight-knit, productive networks to form throughout the organisation. They empower teams and individuals to improve performance, and to surface and address stifling roadblocks. But it doesn’t happen spontaneously.

4 Steps for Success

A bit of preparation goes a long way. Here are some important elements related to fostering candid conversations.

  1. Structure Your Interaction. The best meetings follow a pre-agreed agenda distributed before the group comes together. Candid conversations are the same. Adhering to a standardised structure, and approach, which provides a view of the topics and/or questions to be covered, allows participants to relax into the content. Follow the general rule ‘start small’ and build behaviours.
    Until everyone knows the basic ground rules, each conversation must be rigorously set up for success. It’s not just about using the same structure. Key phrases that cue participants, and set them at ease, must be developed and repeated. Boundaries must be set and enforced. This acclimates participants to shared expectations, and demonstrates that the rules, which allow everyone to feel comfortable, will be followed. It also indicates that there is a commitment to managing the conversational space, and therefore, everyone can relax and concentrate on the content.     
  2. Start with the Question. The only way to have a truly spectacular conversation is to invite people to the table who 1) have knowledge of the subject, 2) want to share their views, even if they different from yours/others’, and 3) believe that the time they will dedicate to the conversation will be well-spent and rewarding. An enthralling question that entices your participant to explore the topic is an easy way to build momentum. Considering the WiifMs (What’s in it for Me) is an important element in crafting the question. An invitation with a riveting question, should answer, ‘Why is this so important to me… and to others?’ and ‘Why is it important to have this conversation now?’
  3. No Surprises. Candid conversations are not interrogations. They are not run by investigative journalists trying to surprise or catch someone off-guard. In fact, the better informed the participants are, the better the conversation will be. Previewing the question(s) and detail(s) is foundational to building a better interaction. Explaining why the topic is important, allows everyone involved to churn the topic around in their subconscious before they show up for the conversation. This ‘soak time’ ensures that even if someone doesn’t feel they have anything to add to the conversation, much of the time they are able to add quite a bit of value.
  4. Approach with Curiosity. A hallmark of KTCs is the acceptance – one might even say the celebration of interruption and disagreement – just like a conversation at your own kitchen table. Participants are encouraged to be gracious, but to disagree and to freely air different points of view. This light-hearted approach to divergence sends a message that all perspectives and viewpoints are welcome and valued. Approaching each assertion with curiosity doesn’t mean you must accept everything that is said. It does mean, though, that even if perspectives vary, a tone of curiosity, inclusion, and exploration should be the norm. This approach very quickly begins to permeate other conversations throughout the organisation and can create a step-change in the quality of dialogue and increase productivity. The key message in this approach is that the sky will not fall if you disagree… in fact, the sun might just shine a bit brighter. 

Whether you are looking for a refreshingly new perspective about a situation, service, or product, or need to clarify information to resolve an existing problem, candid conversations can model constructive and confident behaviour that increases sense-making which invigorates and revitalise the organisation.

Buy the book: Innovation at the Kitchen Table: Better Business Through Conversation

Thank You Note for My F1 Mentor

Thank You Note for My F1 Mentor

The F1 season is already upon us, and I must admit that it snuck up on me this year.
Ever since I can remember, no matter where I was in the world, my brother and I kicked off the season together. We would recap the highs and lows of last season and enjoy a trip down our shared racing memory lane. My brother had the most amazing recall. He could recount each overtake or dust-up, every corner or straight, or pit crew, that made the difference for this driver or that one. I could name a year and a track, and he could tell me who took the podium, and their major battles. He could even say, with great accuracy, if it had rained, and when, on that weekend.

The racing conversations started early for us. Much like our friends, we would deke down to Mosport in someone’s borrowed car, returning home soaked in racing fumes and burnt to a crisp after a day in the blazing sun. We would spend hours talking cars and drivers as we manoeuvred engine blocks, via a block and tackle attached to the underside of the cottage, or parts onto the tarp. As the younger sister, I was content to play ‘assistant mechanic’, doing easy sparkplug changes, or manging different parts in clearly defined sorting and cleaning areas, as he rebuilt his ‘0-30 in 5 minutes’ junk-yard scrapper, into a 5-second, ‘0 to 60’ wonder!

He was passionate about speed and muscle. I was passionate about design and history. I could ask him anything and he took the question seriously. We certainly didn’t always see eye-to-eye; I disliked some drivers for reasons that had nothing to do with their performance on the track. For him, what happened on the track was everything. But we did agree that there was no better way to spend the day, than puzzling over why Enzo seemed so attached to our beloved Gilles, or dissecting the most intense rivalries, on and off the track.

As an adult, I never really ‘graduated’ much past changing my own oil or brake pads. And eventually, as we aged, I was content to greet him in my driveway with one kid clinging to my knee, and a baby on my hip, ‘oohing‘ and ‘aahing’, as he arrived in his newest ‘vette. “Take it for a spin,” he would say, tossing me the keys, while he scooped my eldest into his arms and effortlessly received the baby like a football handoff.

My senses would tingle as I was enveloped by the smell and snugness of leather. With a market overwhelmed with automatic transmissions, stepping hard on that small square pedal, signalled that I was part of the diminishing but exotic group of young women in Canada.

My brother was my first mentor. Introducing me to a world that, realistically, did not welcome most women with open arms. He pushed me to pick up a wrench, and to shift quickly and smoothly to maximise power. I would gladly tag-along to watch back-road races and ½ ton shenanigans on gravel. Even though my interests changed as I matured, he accepted me. He did not think less of me when I became a cheerleader in high school. He would still call up to my open window from the backyard, head buried under his hood… “Lisa, I need an extra pair of hands.” And I would gladly come running.
In his world, the sky was the limit, and the playing fields were limitless. For us both.
This week, when I realised the season had already begun and, for the millionth time in the last months… remembered that I would never discuss anything over a cold beer or long telephone line with him ever again, I was struck by the impact that one person can have on generations.

Because of my brother’s acceptance and inclusion, I became more confident; trying things I don’t think I would have dared without his encouragement. Ski patrol, karate and yoga, mixed with business transformation as easily as car engines and figure skating from my youth. Because of the confidence and competency I learned at his side, I have worked almost all over the world, and spent the majority of my career working comfortably in male-dominated sectors. I have rarely felt like an outsider – even when I was the only woman in the room. I can build furniture, fell a tree, drill holes in concreate and move (really, really heavy) stuff alone.

ideogibs, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Because of my mentor’s influence, I taught both of my daughters to drive on a stick – an unheard-of occurrence for Canadian millennials. I believe that belonging to this exclusive group gave them more confidence than other girls their age. Because I grew up familiar getting my hands dirty, both of my daughters love power tools. They are masters of their fates, at least in part, because of my relationship with my first mentor. They are also not afraid to ask questions. Even if they think that they really should already know the answer.
So here is a shout out and thank you to all our mentors who have taken opportunities to share their knowledge with us; who have boosted our confidence, accepted and welcomed our perspectives. To the mentors who see potential, not gender. That unabashedly share their knowledge – whether about cars, or conversations – freely and with enthusiasm. Who signal that we belong in their tribe by throwing us a wrench, or question, and expecting us to use it. To the mentors that we admire, and from time to time, yes, idolise, but who refuse to be put on a pedestal and who would never take advantage. We all know that there are more of them than the others.

Thanks to the mentors who know that no matter where we are on the grid of work, each of us has the chance to be on that podium, but it takes a team to get there. That, in the end, it’s about having the chance to make a difference in one person’s life, so that they, in turn, have the chance to make a difference for the next person.

And that perhaps, if we are truly lucky, that chance comes today.

Organisational Coaching: Teach Me to Fish!

Organisational Coaching: Teach Me to Fish!

Organisational coaching addresses gaps in skills and capabilities that can derail projects, slow initiatives, and side-line worthwhile interventions. It is quite distinct and varies greatly from consulting or contracting but is becoming more prevalent in the gig economy. While consulting focuses on high level scans and reports and contracting (usually) fills a specific job in the short-term organisational
coaches (OCs) bridge the gap. They provide true knowledge transfer and skill-building to your employees.

Organisational coaches (OCs) are brought on to fill a specific gap in the company. That gaps may be found in knowledge, methodology or an organisational process. Whatever the need, the OC works beside the client’s people, transferring knowledge and conveying a robust understanding of the overarching practices as they work as a team to resolve the challenge.

The implementation or an ERP solution or Salesforce is a great example of the OCs value. These types of projects require a variety of skills such as training, knowledge transfer, skill building, technical knowledge, etc. that may not be found within the company. Once the implementation is over, and the project moves to the maintenance stage (which, of course, has been well-institutionalised and set throughout the internal target markets) and roles that may be addressed within the company’s existing structure.

Within the company, the OC may be assigned to a group, a project or brought in to provide support within a belaboured initiative. In this latter case, not only can the OC provide process knowledge, but they work with the team to craft communications and messages that allow for greater understanding, uptake and engagement.

Most OC share profound knowledge of their area (eg, Salesforce vs SAP vs culture change) and an extremely broad knowledge of organisational change management (OCM) theories and practices. They bring a desire – some might say a deep-seated need – to transfer their knowledge to others. Vigilant about overarching impacts, they can roll up their sleeves and work ‘in the business’, beside the team, but are adept at ‘working on the business’; taking a strategic view of the immediate and long-term requirements associated with their engagement.

They don’t wait to be asked, but volunteer information and advice without being pushy. They understand that, as coaches, they cannot force change but can ensure that the client group has an optimal view of potential paths on the journey. They take a global approach, applying their coaching skills at a broader level than just individuals or groups. They actively look for organisational impacts and signs (or lack of) for business readiness. The hallmarks of OCs include:

  • Leaving knowledge with the client
  • Providing an organisational boost in communication, engagement or motivation
  • Encouraging the use of modifiable templates and boilerplates to save time and resources (many of which they have at hand)
  • Describing process stages and potential bottle necks so that they can be prevented in the planning stages or avoided on an ad hoc basis
  • Flagging potential risks (base in part on their extensive experience in a specific area of expertise)
  • Connecting the big picture to detailed tasks, actions, and potential outcomes

I believe that every company needs an organisational coach during different stages of development and at phases of their life cycle. If you would like to learn more about, or how to engage our organisational coaches, contact us at