"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change!" - Charles Darwin

Sunday, 3 February 2013

5 things you should know about Organizational Coaching

Some days ago I was having a coffee with one of my colleagues.
While answering to his request of feedback about his work as a Scrum Master, we ended up in talking about what organizational coaching means in practical terms, what it is really and what it takes to be effective.
I cannot report the whole interesting discussion, but here are some takeaways as summary for you: 5 things you should definitely take into account, if you want to become an organization coach.

  1. Use a system approach
An organization is a complex network of people, who are complex beings. If you really want to leverage on all potentials to affect it, either to make it better or simply to help your team, you must look at it as a whole system. Try to sketch a strategy of the possible options you have ahead, possible impediments and way to overcome them to reach your goal: you might realize that a single isolated step is not enough, but you need to take many steps, in order to get any progress.

  1. Know your organization
Try to understand your organization very well. Learn not only about the official and visible structure. Learn much more about the invisible networks, the inner relationships among people, who is friend of whom, who is most sensitive to certain subjects and who counts more or is more decisive on certain tables, whether he has a formal power or only a subtle influential leadership. You cannot imagine what competitive advantage this will give to your effectiveness.

  1. Act on different levels
Challenge the status quo and don’t limit yourself to the most obvious actions. Prefer actions who affect the environment around or the process to do things, instead of addressing directly a specific problem: they will have more and lasting impact.
Talk to people, with a preference for informal chats - coffee machines are a perfect place sometimes :). Try to find initiators and innovators to help you and sponsors to support you in difficult situations. And, whatever level you want to affect, consider acting also one level up.

  1. Understand the effect of your actions
Before taking any steps in your strategy, try to guess which effect it will have in relation to your goal. Make a hypothesis and try to validate it as quick as possible. Find even people who to share your thoughts to and get feedback. The sooner you know if your strategy can work well or not, the better it is: you will then be able to adjust it if necessary and speed up the achievement of your goal.

  1. Try things out
Finally organizational coaching is not mathematics and the system to act upon is many times far too complex to draft a strategy since the beginning, indentify any viable action or understand the effects of possible actions. That’s why sometimes you must simply try things out. And that's not wrong, stated that you try to fail fast and reflect on what you learned to find a different path.

That’s my experience. What did you learn in yours?

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