We’ve just posted an update on training and have an example of how we use some software to make easy to follow video user guides. You can find the new page here – or watch the sample system[read more]

For the last few months, I’ve been working with a brilliant coffee vending business near Gatwick. In terms of culture and atmosphere, it’s quite a contrast to BOTH other venture capital[read more]

The results of Google’s “Project Oxygen” have been reported all over the place in the last week. The London Evening Standard and the New York Times both carried this, follow the[read more]

Does your brain like you to be told what to do or to be its own problem solving engine?

Why do our brains like to be coached?

Do we need to understand how coaching works in order to benefit from it?

What does increasing awareness and responsibility actually do?

I was coaching a coach the other day (he coaches me too) and as he was thinking about how you sell coaching, we got onto how coaching works. Should we try and explain it in our marketing and sales material?

The headlines are fairly simple: Coaching increases awareness and responsibility.

But what does that really mean? Why should awareness of what is happening, of the situation and so on lead to an increase in responsibility and a consequential increase in performance?

That really is a big question and not one for this blog. What’s great about coaching is that you can see the effect. You can watch as someone switches from a passive receiver of information or instruction to taking control of their own performance improvement.

Last year I was about to start helping my 18 year olf daughter learn to drive, she had had quite a few driving lessons, but urgently needed to practice and improve her driving capability. And we only had a few days before her test. I’d recently had a conversation with Sir John Whitmore and he’d told me about the work he was doing with UK and EU government driving agencies to start to move driver qualification and instruction to a coaching model.

So I gave it  a go. As each junction or situation arose, I simply asked my daughter about how she felt about that manoeuvre. What was good, and what would she like to do better? As she thought about, evaluated and analysed her own driving she could see what worked and what needed to improve. In a very short time, her practice and analysis meant that she had improved her own driving to the point where she could pass a driving test.

Yes there were one or two cases when she asked me about something, but 95% of the “learning” came from her.

What would have happened if I had “instructed” instead? Well her instructer had been trying to get her to improve her driving at roundabouts for weeks. Yet in about an hour of practice, she had this cracked with next to no advice.

Perhaps our ability to solve problems of our own is much, much greater than we imagine. In fact it seems to be much greater than our capacity to absorb instruction from someone else, someone who believes that they “know” the answer to our problem. Coaching is the skill and experience to release that potential in someone else. That’s one reason why most coaches continue to also be coached to improve their own performance.

That may not answer why our brains like to be coached – so I’ll add one question. Which do you prefer when something needs doing. Your boss sitting next to telling you what to do, or the opportunity to solve the problem or challenge in a way that suits you and your team?

Coaching provides a useful toolset to support the latter approach.