Some questions to help inform your life

 

 

butterflunew1

Some questions to help inform your life

 

A year from now you will wish you had started today.

— Karen Lamb

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

– Andy Warhol

 

The aim of these questions is to help stimulate insights and/or to help provide a new perspective.

 

  1. What are my core values and drivers right now?
  2. Who am I becoming?
  3. What am I settling for?
  4. Where do I focus my attention?
  5. How am I using my gifts?
  6. What would I like to learn right now?
  7. What am I holding onto that I no longer need?
  8. How much time do I spend with people who inspire me?
  9. How much time do I spend with people that drain me?
  10. What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  11. How can I be happy in my career?
  12. How can I be sure that my relationship with my family is an enduring     source of happiness?
  13. How can I live my life with integrity?
  14. What one thing could I change for the better right now?
  15. Who do I need to speak to or seek help form to achieve any desired change(s)?
  16. How will I know that I have achieved a specific change?
  17. Do I need to prioritise or sequence these changes?
  18. Is there another question I want to ask to inform my thinking?

 

 

Putting it together (considering importance right now to you and interdependencies).

 

Questions What does this mean for me? What will I do?
What are my core values and drivers right now?

 

Who am I becoming?

 

What am I settling for?
Where do I focus my attention?
How am I using my gifts?

 

What would I like to learn right now?

 

What am I holding onto that I no longer need?

 

How much time do I spend with people who inspire me?

 

How much time do I spend with people that drain me?

 

What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?

 

How can I be happy in my career?
How can I be sure that my relationship with my family is an enduring source of happiness?
How can I live my life with integrity?
What one thing could I change for the better right now?

 

Who do I need to speak to or seek help from to achieve any desired change(s)?

 

How will I know that I have achieved a specific change?

 

Do I need to prioritise or sequence these changes?

 

Is there another question I want to ask to inform my thinking?

 

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED FROM CONSIDERING ALL OF THESE INSIGHTS?

 

“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt

 

You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” –A.A. Milne

 

SIGNATURE STRENGTHS

REVIEWING AND IMPROVING YOUR THINKING

THINKING SKILLS

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

DOLPHIN WEB

 

THINKING SKILLS

THINKING SKILLS

DOLPHIN WEB

ALSO see the free FLIPBOARD magazine : MAKING DECISIONS

Consider how you might develop your thinking skills as you take on a new role – here are some insights to stimulate ideas for you to use:

A THINKING LEVELS PERSPECTIVE

 

Common to all subjects and levels is the concept of higher and lower order thinking skills. Higher order skills are considered to be more complex than lower order skills. The triangle model provides a useful way to visualise the relationships between some of the key skills. The complexity of the skills increases from the base to the top of the triangle below.

 

 

 

Although the skills are arranged in a hierarchical way, they are all important. Much of the thinking we do involves a mixture of skills at different levels. We develop and use them simultaneously, for example, when we are solving problems and analysing case studies.

It is possible to extend and develop higher order thinking skills – to develop thinking at a qualitatively higher level, to move into a higher gear.

The specific skills in each area are shown here:

 

Evaluate           judge, appraise, choose, rate, assess, estimate, value, measure, criticise

Synthesise      formulate, teach, design, develop, re-define, propose, create

Analyse           distinguish, differentiate, calculate, debate, relate, compare, experiment, contrast, examine

Apply             demonstrate, schedule, operate, sketch, employ, use, practice

Comprehend  restate, identify, discuss, locate, recognise, review, explain, tell, clarify

Know             recall, define, state, list, repeat, name, recount, present, find

  1. REVIEWING SOME ASPECTS OF YOUR THINKING

 

Activity 1 Complete a simple audit covering the ways you think

 

 

Personal statements

Always Sometimes Never
I see myself as open and fair minded.      
I am curious to find out about things.      
I am really interested in a specific subject      
I relate ideas to previous knowledge, experience and wider contexts      
I look for patterns and relationships between things.      
I like to ask questions and not accept things at face value      
I don’t rush to make judgements or have opinions on things.      
I like to look at all sides of an argument or issues before coming to a conclusion      
I am persistent and like to get to the bottom of things.      
I don’t like situations where people just state opinions without giving reasons or evidence      
I like to find things out for myself and come to my own conclusions on things      
I like to be creative and innovative.      
I take time to reflect on things/my own thinking      
I like clarity, order and precision      
I think strategically about things      
Any statement you wish to add      
Any statement you wish to add      

 

Activity 2 Use the table again to map where you would like to be and consider the gapsand then reflect on any learning gained using the table below

 

Reflection – what I have noticed? Action – what I will do?
What have you learned in terms of potential limitations?

 

 

 

Do the limitations matter right now in your life?

/if so consider next step actions……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What have you noticed in terms of strengths?

 

 

 

Do you want to develop these strengths further?

 

 

 

Consider what you might do to achieve this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. A person cannot help but be in awe when they contemplate the mystery of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one merely tries to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

(Albert Einstein)

 

  1. Questions to develop skills at different levels of thinking
LEVEL OF THINKING EXAMPLES OF QUESTIONS
Knowledge and understanding What? Who? When?

What is an example of x?

What is meant by …..?

What is another way of explaining..?

Is this an example of …?

Can I describe x in my own words?

 

Application How is it used?

What does it relate to?

In what situations …?

 

Analysis Why? How?

What is the reason for ….. ?

What evidence is there to support the conclusion?

What are the causes of …?

How do … fit together?

 

Synthesis If x happens, then what next?

What does the theory predict will happen?

What are my own conclusions on the basis of the information available?

How does x relate to y?

 

Evaluation Is this good or not and why?

Is this reasonable or not and why?

 

 

  1. GIVING STRUCTURE TO THINKING

 

Two common thinking problems are: a feeling of not being able to ‘see the wood for the trees’, and difficulty in being logical and orderly. The key to solving them is being able to think about ideas and information in a conceptual and systematic way so that you have ways to structure your thinking.

 

This can involve:

  • looking at the broader context
  • developing mental models and frameworks to hang ideas and information on
  • Being able to distinguish relative importance and seeing patterns and relationships.

 

Other  ways might be based on:

 

  • chronology,
  • complexity,
  • spatial organisation,
  • positive and negative aspects,
  • pros and cons,
  • familiar and unfamiliar,
  • from top to bottom of an organisational structure.

 

In some cases, the component parts of something work together to form a system, for example arteries, veins and capillaries work together to form the blood circulatory system in the body.

 

  1. USEFUL THINKING MODELS

 

USING DANCE

 

For example, the DANCE system (Rose and Nicholl, 1997) is one of many tools for solving problems.

 

D – Define and clarify what the problem really is (sometimes it is not initially clear). What are your goals?

A – Think of a range of alternative ways of solving the problem.

N – Narrow down the range of possible solutions to leave the best.

C – Choose the ideal solution and check what the consequences might be.

E – Effect action using the best solution.

 

 

 

 

USING VISUAL TOOLS

 

Organising thought can be assisted greatly by the use of visual tools.

 

These can include:

 

  • diagrams,
  • mind-maps,
  • tables,
  • graphs, time lines,
  • flow charts,
  • sequence diagrams,
  • decision trees
  • story boards
  • rich pictures
  • or other visual representations.

 

The process of making visual representations can itself involve using and developing a range of thinking skills, particularly higher order skills. So, whether you need the resulting product or not they can be worth doing. However, the resulting product can also provide an effective way of communicating your thinking to others. In fact, sometimes it can be very hard not to use a diagram – drawing or referring to a map, for example, makes it much easier to give directions.

 

Mind-mapping can be a particularly powerful visual tool for shaping thought. The basic principle here is to note down the central topic or idea in the centre of a piece of paper and work outwards adding the points which flow from and connect to it. It is particularly helpful for seeing the different

levels of thought.

 

 

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

 .At this stage, you may find it useful to consider how ideas like these can be put together in ways that will help you when you engage in activities such as reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Here is a checklist to use when making judgements about things that you hear, see and experience.

  • Who is speaking or writing?
  • What is their point of view or perspective?
  • What ideas and information are presented and how were they obtained?
  • Are there unsupported assertions?
  • Are reasons or evidence provided?
  • Are the reasons and evidence given relevant?
  • Is the method used to find the evidence sound?
  • Is the evidence correct or valid?
  • What assumptions have been made?
  • What is fact and what is opinion?
  • What are the implicit and explicit values?
  • Are there unreasonable generalisations?
  • What has been omitted?
  • How was the conclusion reached?
  • Is the conclusion reasonable?
  • What other perspectives or points of view could there be?
  • You may be able to think of more points to add to this list.

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RESOURCES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT : OPEN UNIVERSITY- OPEN LEARNING- DEVELOPING THINKING SKILLS

CRITICAL THINKING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM – Scientific American

COACHING MODELS

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SEE MY FREE BEING A COACH magazine

INPUT /OUTPUT by Dr Jon Warner in Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching has come a long way in the last 10 years or so. In the early to mid 1990’s only a handful of executives in only the largest of companies had any kind of formal coaching from an external source and even in these cases perhaps only as a “special” project of limited duration, not as an on-going relationship. Even in more recent times, as coaching has penetrated organizations of all types and sizes much further, there has not always been much in the way of a common methodology or approach, with many coaches being happy to act as a general sounding board, and “float” in the direction that the senior executive pointed. However, this “loose” approach is rapidly changing and we are now seeing much more in the way of outline models being used to help guide the coaching process. This article therefore reviews some of the more common approaches now being used and attempts to assess how useful they seem to be.

Before we look at some of the coaching process models that are often used, it is important to establish just what a typical coaching assignment will seek to do over a given time period. Most typically, the flow will go something like this:

  • The coach and person being coached will discuss the current situation and reflect on personal, as well as team or organizational goals for the future.
  • Feedback on current behavior and issues is gathered in formal and informal ways (often including 360-degree feedback)
  • The coach collates feedback data and offers  a collated summary to the person being coached (adding his or her own perspective (to a minor or major extent)
  • The person being coaching sets personal and team/organization goals for change or adjustment
  • The coach and the person being coached work together towards clearly identified targets
  • The process continues until the targets have been substantially achieved. At this point, the relationship may end or it may be decided that the cycle is worthy of repeating with new reflection and goal setting.

Although some assignments may have many more stages than this, these tend to be sub-steps of the above. As a result, these six stages are usefully descriptive for our purposes, although they are far from equivalent in time and effort (as we will see).

Input versus output based coaching models

In broad terms, the above 6-stage process can be split into 2 halves. The first 3 stages involve what we can call “input-based coaching”, while the last 3 stages involve what we can call “output-based coaching”. Not only are these two types of approach very different, but the models that are often used in each of them are quite distinct.

Input-based coaching, as the name suggests, is primarily concerned with soliciting and processing feedback. Apart from the coach, this will come from the individual being coached, the boss, colleagues within the organization, and, in some cases, from the people reporting to the person being coached.  The simple goal here is to gather a considerable amount of data or opinion about the person who is receiving the coaching so as to ensure that there is as rich an understanding as possible about strengths, development needs, positive and negative behaviors and other factors which may affect job (or overall) performance.

Because input-based coaching is essentially focused on reflection, the tools and models for helping individuals here are either mechanisms which help to structure or make sense of the feedback (such as psychometric profiling tools or pre-designed 360°feedback assessments), or well-established models which help to give a coach and the person being coached “permission” to talk about what might otherwise be a difficult or sensitive issues. As often as not, these latter models are 4 quadrant grids, which intersect two scales to help cluster behavior in general ways. This thereby allows for further discussion about behavior in particular quadrants in the grid.

Output-based coaching, once again as the name suggests, is primarily concerned with what the individual being coached actually does or achieves in tangible terms. This may be to effect some level of personal change (which may be known only to the individual and his or her coach). However, if it is to be classified as truly output-based, the change should be visible to others and/or be observable in measurable ways in the workplace.

Because output-based coaching is concerned with what changes in the individual or in the workplace in visible terms, it is essentially an action-centered approach more concerned with the attainment of real solutions and what are deemed to be valuable results or solutions. The tools and models which are therefore most often applied here are process type approaches. This includes progressive process step type models and formula-based models (some of which we will be looking at shortly).

The reason for splitting the coaching intervention process into these two categories of input and output-based is not just to create a convenient cluster heading for all that might be done in each, but to make the point that modern coaching tends to be extremely biased towards the former. In other words, the amount of effort and time invested in input-based coaching is often 2-3 times greater than outcome-based coaching and we are therefore wise to question whether or not this is appropriate.

Input-based coaching models

Although we can readily invite feedback from a number of sources by a common set of questions that we invent each time we are looking to offer coaching, this is likely to yield less useful results than using a variety of well-researched tools or methods which have usually been honed over many years. Such tools tend to fall into 3 categories. These are:

  1. Self awareness based tools. This includes psychometric instruments such as Type or Temperament profiles (such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, the PTI or the Kersey’s Temperament Sorter). Other popular tools in this category are the Human Element FIRO® assessment, Cattell’s 16PF and Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP.
  2. 3rd-party feedback tools.  This includes frameworks which seek to assess individual skills and competencies . Popular tools in this category include are the Leadership and Management Effectiveness profiles, Harrison Innerview assessment, Strength-finder assessment and Schein’s Career Anchors profile.
  3. “New Insight” tools.  This typically includes behavioral grid type frameworks which aim to allow individuals to look for both strengths and development t needs according to the particular model. Examples of popular tools in this category include Johari’s window,Berne’s “OK Corral” model, and Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® Grid.

An effective coach will typically use one tool from each of the above categories (often based on his or her personal preferences, prior training or general familiarity with the approach). The implication therefore is that a given individual undergoing coaching may be exposed to at least 3 significant feedback processes, and sometimes these may involve three to four meetings each-making the input data very deep but potentially quite time consuming.

“Bridge” Models

Of course, it is by no means inevitable that we use tools such as the above when coaching an individual, with many coaches preferring to use more progressive models at an early stage, so as to move more quickly from input to output-based coaching (and not to become “mired” in the use of any one feedback type tool)

Particular coaches may invent their own coaching process model or use methodologies developed by management consultants or academics who are experienced in the coaching sphere. The “Action-learning” model, expressed as L=P+Q (or Learning=Programmed Knowledge plus Insightful Questions) proposed by Professor Revans is one such model often used. Others are the “GAPS” model, developed by Hicks and Peterson (Goals, Abilities, Perceptions and Standards) and the “GROW” model, developed by Alexander and Whitmore (standing for Goal, Reality, Obstacles and Will).

In fact, the GROW model has also been adapted by some coaches, who often augment the model. One example is the “GROWTH” model developed by O’Bree and Campbell (which adds the categories of Tactics and Habits).

What is common to all the models mentioned here is that they attempt to create a progression or “bridge” for the individual being coached. If successful, this takes them from the reflective phase of the coaching intervention to the point at which tangible change at least starts to happen. Unfortunately, while the intention may be laudable, the reality is often that individuals often “stay on the bridge” and do not get to the other side.  This is frequently because all of these models still put significant stress on the personal input side of the equation and therefore may cause a person being coached to become overly consumed by the feedback they are getting (and either want to spend time dealing with it or squeezing up the time they have for action).  In some cases (the “GROW” model being a good example) even the steps proposed are mainly input side oriented. The GROW model suggests mainly personal or inner challenges at the “G”, “R” and “O” stages and even with “will” it is essentially  a thought process about how to become motivated to act. It therefore seems that we need to go further, if we really want substantive change to occur.

Output-based coaching models

While there are a plethora of input-based coaching models, there are relatively few output-based coaching models.  This is partly because the input-based approaches have been popular in the last decade or so. However, it is also because such output-based models are still evolving in the executive coaching field.

There are 4 models that attempt to describe a more action-oriented coaching process. These are “aMAP2™”, “CIGAR”, “OUTCOMES™” and the “RESULTS™” model. Let’s look briefly at each of these.

The “aMAP2™” model, developed by Devers and Kulesa, attempts to be a transformational process to use when coaching an individual. It stands for Action by Motivating, Awareness and Possibilities using Powerful questions (and therefore has similarities to Revans Action-learning methodology).  The “aMAP2™” approach is clearly implementation focused in asking both the coach and the person being coached to consider change issues. However, in its application individuals may still be led towards greater reflection than doing something differently (unless led strongly by the individual coach).

The “CIGAR” approach was evolved by several consultants using the GROW model. This acronym stands for C-Current situation, I -for Ideal outcome, G-for the gap between C and I, A –for action plan and finally R –for Review. On the surface, the CIGAR model is well-balanced in its steps. However, in practice, too much stress is often placed on current problems and ideal solutions, rather than practical options which can help the individual to move positively forward.

The “OUTCOMES™” model, developed by management consultant and executive coach Allan Mackintosh, has similarities to the “GROW” model in some of its aspects. However, it particularly attempts to stretch into the “action sphere” by adding 3 steps at the end, all of which are focused on creating much more general impetus for change.

The steps of the OUTCOMES™ model are: O = Objectives. U = Understand the Reasons. = Take Stock of the Present Situation. C = Clarify the Gap. O = Options Generation. M = Motivate to Action. E = Enthusiasm & Encouragement. S= Support.

Like the “GROW” coaching model, the “OUTCOMES™”  process still provides no real stages for implementation, actual adjustment or review of post-change success. This perhaps is where the “RESULTS™” model, developed by Warner Results Coaching, is the only model to have multiple steps in this area.

The “RESULTS™” model incorporates similar stages to both “GROW”, “CIGAR”  and “OUTCOMES™” in the first 3 steps of the process. However, the last 4 steps are very much change-implementation focused, with the “T” and “S” stages in particular being seen to be the most critical. The full “RESULTS™” model is as follows:

R=Reflect -Take time to think, ask questions and re-frame, E=Evaluate -Carefully assess all the forward options , S=Strategize -Select the plan(s) with the best chance of succeeding, U=Understand -Appreciate what resources will be needed to succeed, L=Listen -Pay attention to the input of employees and colleagues, T=Take Action  -Implement plans and follow-though persistently, S= Systematize -Ensure that processes are permanently changed.

A question of balance

There is no doubt that both “input-based”, “bridge” and “output-based” coaching all play a valuable role in helping managers at all levels to gain helpful insights and to increase their overall contribution or performance. However, in this article we have been advocating that the balance of effort (in time and resources) has been too much skewed to the “input” side of things and in fact may be wise to establish a more balanced approach.

If we seek to simply illustrate some of the models that we have been talking about above, we can perhaps do this best by using a sort of funnel as follows:

FUNNEL

This diagram suggests that an individual being coached is effectively “processed” from top to bottom, with input-based coaching models being used initially or at the beginning of the coaching journey and output-based models used at later stages in the particular intervention, or more towards the end.  Bridge coaching processes can stretch themselves along the path on occasions but in the main tend to occur towards the beginning and in the middle of an intervention.

If we represent this model in terms of how much time is spent at each part of the coaching process, it would probably look something like the following:

GRAPH

As we can see, input-based coaching dominates both coach and the recipient executive time and effort, leaving output-based interventions highly squeezed. This simply means that the early feedback processes need to be not only shortened somewhat but should be more future focused in terms of changed behavior or processes that would be beneficial down the track.

Summary

In this article, it has been suggested that many of the currently used coaching models play a useful role in the modern executive coaching realm, bringing useful thinking structures to individuals and in helping to more readily develop well-thought through forward plans. However, there are many more input-based models than output based ones and this heavily consumes the energy of both a given coach and recipient of the coaching, leaving too little time and energy for later substantive change. It may therefore be time to re-think where most of the current executive coaching effort is invested. This may well mean  creating much more time to support individual change action and to help an individual to consolidate the gains made, than allowing him or her to become overly focused or even consumed by feedback (as interesting as it may be) if it doesn’t take the individual positively forward

COACHING BOOK STORE on AMAZON

CONSTRUCTING A BUSINESS CASE FOR COACHING

chess july 2013

BUILDING The Business Case for Coaching – useful links and insights

Return on Investment in Executive Coaching  Willem Jan Hofmans

Abstract : 
Executive coaching, as defined as an intervention aimed toward helping executives improve their performance and consequently the performance of the overall organisation, has gained enormously in popularity. However there are few empirical studies which link coaching to improved results, and therefore there is little evidence of its effectiveness as a leadership development tool.
From a managerial viewpoint the issue is that the Return on Investment (ROI) of coaching is not easily measurable.

The relevance of this research project to the field of management is that it will provide a basis for managers to evaluate the effectiveness of executive coaching through the application of an integrated coaching evaluation framework considering the client, coach, client-coach relationship and coaching methodology, as well as providing the field of management with empirical evidence regarding the business impact of executive coaching for 100 (planned) coaching engagements.
As an Executive Coach for the last three years, this research study will allow me to take a rigorous, academic approach to better understanding this field. From a professional practice point of view this research will contribute to the further professionalisation of executive coaching and provide a platform for marketing the results of this research in support of business development.
If you have been tasked with making a business case for coaching, here are some fundamental elements around which to structure your thinking:

  • A summary of leaders’ expectations, performance gaps and business needs
  • A synopsis of the value message: How coaching will meet these expectations, close the gaps and help achieve business goals
  • Description of the coaching programme, including objectives and measures
  • Roles, responsibilities and ways of working for successful partnership
  • The key benefits for specified stakeholders
  • The investment required for the coaching programme
  • Success factors and risk factors
  • How the coaching programme will be evaluated

USEFUL INFORMATION AND LINKS

For more on this : COACHING ON CALL

The Case for Executive Coaching

The Business Case for Executive Coaching – The ICF Coaching ROI Global Study

ROI and Coaching: Applying Metrics to Measure the Effectiveness of Coaching Programs
A study by Paul Bernard

Making the case for coaching: Does it work? – CIPD

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View

Leaning consultancy partnership view – building the business case for coaching

Personnel Today article

DOLPHIN WEB

REVIEWING AND IMPROVING YOUR THINKING

a09d4-dolphinweb

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.  Albert Einstein

When working with clients it often emerges that the quality of their thinking is causing blocks to desired progress. Our focus then switches to better understanding how the client processes information and makes decisions to help move forward.

A THINKING LEVELS PERSPECTIVE

Common to all subjects and levels is the concept of higher and lower order thinking skills. Higher order skills are considered to be more complex than lower order skills. The triangle model provides a useful way to visualise the relationships between some of the key skills. The complexity of the skills increases from the base to the top of the list below

Although the skills are arranged in a hierarchical way, they are all important. Much of the thinking we do involves a mixture of skills at different levels. We develop and use them simultaneously, for example, when we are solving problems and analysing case studies.

It is possible to extend and develop higher order thinking skills – to develop thinking at a qualitatively higher level, to move into a higher gear.

The specific skills in each area are shown in this list  here:

Evaluate           judge, appraise, choose, rate, assess, estimate, value, measure, criticise

Synthesise      formulate, teach, design, develop, re-define, propose, create

Analyse           distinguish, differentiate, calculate, debate, relate, compare, experiment, contrast, examine

Apply             demonstrate, schedule, operate, sketch, employ, use, practice

Comprehend  restate, identify, discuss, locate, recognise, review, explain, tell, clarify

Know             recall, define, state, list, repeat, name, recount, present, find

2. REVIEWING SOME ASPECTS OF YOUR THINKING

 

Activity 1 Complete a simple audit covering the ways you think

Personal statements Always Sometimes Never
I see myself as open and fair minded.
I am curious to find out about things.
I am really interested in a specific subject
I relate ideas to previous knowledge, experience and wider contexts
I look for patterns and relationships between things.
I like to ask questions and not accept things at face value
I don’t rush to make judgements or have opinions on things.
I like to look at all sides of an argument or issues before coming to a conclusion
I am persistent and like to get to the bottom of things.
I don’t like situations where people just state opinions without giving reasons or evidence
I like to find things out for myself and come to my own conclusions on things
I like to be creative and innovative.
I take time to reflect on things/my own thinking
I like clarity, order and precision
I think strategically about things
Any statement you wish to add
Any statement you wish to add

Activity 2 Use the table again to map where you would like to be and consider the gapsand then reflect on any learning gained using the table below

Reflection – what I have noticed? Action – what I will do?
What have you learned in terms of potential limitations?Do the limitations matter right now in your life?/if so consider next step actions……
What have you noticed in terms of strengths?Do you want to develop these strengths further?Consider what you might do to achieve this

 

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. A person cannot help but be in awe when they contemplate the mystery of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one merely tries to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

(Albert Einstein)

  1. Questions to develop skills at different levels of thinking
LEVEL OF THINKING EXAMPLES OF QUESTIONS
Knowledge and understanding What? Who? When?What is an example of x?What is meant by …..?What is another way of explaining..?

Is this an example of …?

Can I describe x in my own words?

Application How is it used?What does it relate to?In what situations …?
Analysis Why? How?What is the reason for ….. ?What evidence is there to support the conclusion?What are the causes of …?

How do … fit together?

Synthesis If x happens, then what next?What does the theory predict will happen?What are my own conclusions on the basis of the information available?How does x relate to y?
Evaluation Is this good or not and why?Is this reasonable or not and why?
  1. GIVING STRUCTURE TO THINKING

 

Two common thinking problems are: a feeling of not being able to ‘see the wood for the trees’, and difficulty in being logical and orderly. The key to solving them is being able to think about ideas and information in a conceptual and systematic way so that you have ways to structure your thinking.

This can involve:

  • looking at the broader context
  • developing mental models and frameworks to hang ideas and information on
  • Being able to distinguish relative importance and seeing patterns and relationships.

Other ways might be based on:

  • chronology,
  • complexity,
  • spatial organisation,
  • positive and negative aspects,
  • pros and cons,
  • familiar and unfamiliar,
  • from top to bottom of an organisational structure.

In some cases, the component parts of something work together to form a system, for example arteries, veins and capillaries work together to form the blood circulatory system in the body.

  1. USEFUL THINKING MODELS

 

USING DANCE

 

For example, the DANCE system (Rose and Nicholl, 1997) is one of many tools for solving problems.

D – Define and clarify what the problem really is (sometimes it is not initially clear). What are your goals?

A – Think of a range of alternative ways of solving the problem.

N – Narrow down the range of possible solutions to leave the best.

C – Choose the ideal solution and check what the consequences might be.

E – Effect action using the best solution.

 

 

 

USING VISUAL TOOLS

 

Organising thought can be assisted greatly by the use of visual tools.

These can include:

  • diagrams,
  • mind-maps,
  • tables,
  • graphs, time lines,
  • flow charts,
  • sequence diagrams,
  • decision trees
  • story boards
  • rich pictures
  • or other visual representations.

The process of making visual representations can itself involve using and developing a range of thinking skills, particularly higher order skills. So, whether you need the resulting product or not they can be worth doing. However, the resulting product can also provide an effective way of communicating your thinking to others. In fact, sometimes it can be very hard not to use a diagram – drawing or referring to a map, for example, makes it much easier to give directions.

Mind-mapping can be a particularly powerful visual tool for shaping thought. The basic principle here is to note down the central topic or idea in the centre of a piece of paper and work outwards adding the points which flow from and connect to it. It is particularly helpful for seeing the different

levels of thought.  Here is a mind map example by someone planning to write an essay on memory.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

 .At this stage, you may find it useful to consider how ideas like these can be put together in ways that will help you when you engage in activities such as reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Here is a checklist to use when making judgements about things that you hear, see and experience.

  • Who is speaking or writing?
  • What is their point of view or perspective?
  • What ideas and information are presented and how were they obtained?
  • Are there unsupported assertions?
  • Are reasons or evidence provided?
  • Are the reasons and evidence given relevant?
  • Is the method used to find the evidence sound?
  • Is the evidence correct or valid?
  • What assumptions have been made?
  • What is fact and what is opinion?
  • What are the implicit and explicit values?
  • Are there unreasonable generalisations?
  • What has been omitted?
  • How was the conclusion reached?
  • Is the conclusion reasonable?
  • What other perspectives or points of view could there be?
  • You may be able to think of more points to add to this list.

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  • NOW ACCEPTING NEW CLIENTS : Coaching via Skype / Facetime / 1 to 1 meetingsMy career experience includes HR Director and senior executive roles in Barclays plc and Tesco plc leading major transformation and complex change programmes reporting at Board level .I have an MBA, BA and I am a member of the CIPD and Association for Coaching. I am an accredited coach with over 12 years of private client coaching experience and as an associate consultant with Penna (UK) dealing with career, life,executive and business coaching and counselling. I work in mentoring and coaching partnerships with executives to help achieve gains of importance to them.I help people of all ages, different cultures and job levels to understand more about themselves, their impact on others and how to develop across major dimensions in life.
    I respect the integrity and confidentiality of my clients building on their existing great skills and abilities and evolving enhanced self guidance : ” No one in the world was ever you before, with your particular gifts and abilities and possibilities.”Specialties: Holistic / systemic approach to coaching
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Just a thought :

Five frogs are sitting on a log.
Four decide to jump off. How many are left? 

Answer: five. Why? Because there’s a difference between deciding and doing.

Mark Feldman

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USING COACHING MODELS

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Using “Models” to Assist the Coaching Process:

INPUT /OUTPUT by Dr Jon Warner in Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching has come a long way in the last 10 years or so. In the early to mid 1990’s only a handful of executives in only the largest of companies had any kind of formal coaching from an external source and even in these cases perhaps only as a “special” project of limited duration, not as an on-going relationship. Even in more recent times, as coaching has penetrated organizations of all types and sizes much further, there has not always been much in the way of a common methodology or approach, with many coaches being happy to act as a general sounding board, and “float” in the direction that the senior executive pointed. However, this “loose” approach is rapidly changing and we are now seeing much more in the way of outline models being used to help guide the coaching process. This article therefore reviews some of the more common approaches now being used and attempts to assess how useful they seem to be.

Before we look at some of the coaching process models that are often used, it is important to establish just what a typical coaching assignment will seek to do over a given time period. Most typically, the flow will go something like this:

  • The coach and person being coached will discuss the current situation and reflect on personal, as well as team or organizational goals for the future.
  • Feedback on current behavior and issues is gathered in formal and informal ways (often including 360-degree feedback)
  • The coach collates feedback data and offers  a collated summary to the person being coached (adding his or her own perspective (to a minor or major extent)
  • The person being coaching sets personal and team/organization goals for change or adjustment
  • The coach and the person being coached work together towards clearly identified targets
  • The process continues until the targets have been substantially achieved. At this point, the relationship may end or it may be decided that the cycle is worthy of repeating with new reflection and goal setting.

Although some assignments may have many more stages than this, these tend to be sub-steps of the above. As a result, these six stages are usefully descriptive for our purposes, although they are far from equivalent in time and effort (as we will see).

Input versus output based coaching models

In broad terms, the above 6-stage process can be split into 2 halves. The first 3 stages involve what we can call “input-based coaching”, while the last 3 stages involve what we can call “output-based coaching”. Not only are these two types of approach very different, but the models that are often used in each of them are quite distinct.

Input-based coaching, as the name suggests, is primarily concerned with soliciting and processing feedback. Apart from the coach, this will come from the individual being coached, the boss, colleagues within the organization, and, in some cases, from the people reporting to the person being coached.  The simple goal here is to gather a considerable amount of data or opinion about the person who is receiving the coaching so as to ensure that there is as rich an understanding as possible about strengths, development needs, positive and negative behaviors and other factors which may affect job (or overall) performance.

Because input-based coaching is essentially focused on reflection, the tools and models for helping individuals here are either mechanisms which help to structure or make sense of the feedback (such as psychometric profiling tools or pre-designed 360°feedback assessments), or well-established models which help to give a coach and the person being coached “permission” to talk about what might otherwise be a difficult or sensitive issues. As often as not, these latter models are 4 quadrant grids, which intersect two scales to help cluster behavior in general ways. This thereby allows for further discussion about behavior in particular quadrants in the grid.

Output-based coaching, once again as the name suggests, is primarily concerned with what the individual being coached actually does or achieves in tangible terms. This may be to effect some level of personal change (which may be known only to the individual and his or her coach). However, if it is to be classified as truly output-based, the change should be visible to others and/or be observable in measurable ways in the workplace.

Because output-based coaching is concerned with what changes in the individual or in the workplace in visible terms, it is essentially an action-centered approach more concerned with the attainment of real solutions and what are deemed to be valuable results or solutions. The tools and models which are therefore most often applied here are process type approaches. This includes progressive process step type models and formula-based models (some of which we will be looking at shortly).

The reason for splitting the coaching intervention process into these two categories of input and output-based is not just to create a convenient cluster heading for all that might be done in each, but to make the point that modern coaching tends to be extremely biased towards the former. In other words, the amount of effort and time invested in input-based coaching is often 2-3 times greater than outcome-based coaching and we are therefore wise to question whether or not this is appropriate.

Input-based coaching models

Although we can readily invite feedback from a number of sources by a common set of questions that we invent each time we are looking to offer coaching, this is likely to yield less useful results than using a variety of well-researched tools or methods which have usually been honed over many years. Such tools tend to fall into 3 categories. These are:

  1. Self awareness based tools. This includes psychometric instruments such as Type or Temperament profiles (such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, the PTI or the Kersey’s Temperament Sorter). Other popular tools in this category are the Human Element FIRO® assessment, Cattell’s 16PF and Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP.
  2. 3rd-party feedback tools.  This includes frameworks which seek to assess individual skills and competencies . Popular tools in this category include are the Leadership and Management Effectiveness profiles, Harrison Innerview assessment, Strength-finder assessment and Schein’s Career Anchors profile.
  3. “New Insight” tools.  This typically includes behavioral grid type frameworks which aim to allow individuals to look for both strengths and development t needs according to the particular model. Examples of popular tools in this category include Johari’s window,Berne’s “OK Corral” model, and Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® Grid.

An effective coach will typically use one tool from each of the above categories (often based on his or her personal preferences, prior training or general familiarity with the approach). The implication therefore is that a given individual undergoing coaching may be exposed to at least 3 significant feedback processes, and sometimes these may involve three to four meetings each-making the input data very deep but potentially quite time consuming.

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“Bridge” Models

Of course, it is by no means inevitable that we use tools such as the above when coaching an individual, with many coaches preferring to use more progressive models at an early stage, so as to move more quickly from input to output-based coaching (and not to become “mired” in the use of any one feedback type tool)

Particular coaches may invent their own coaching process model or use methodologies developed by management consultants or academics who are experienced in the coaching sphere. The “Action-learning” model, expressed as L=P+Q (or Learning=Programmed Knowledge plus InsightfulQuestions) proposed by Professor Revans is one such model often used. Others are the “GAPS” model, developed by Hicks and Peterson (Goals, Abilities, Perceptions and Standards) and the “GROW” model, developed by Alexander and Whitmore (standing for Goal, Reality, Obstacles andWill).

In fact, the GROW model has also been adapted by some coaches, who often augment the model. One example is the “GROWTH” model developed by O’Bree and Campbell (which adds the categories of Tactics and Habits).

What is common to all the models mentioned here is that they attempt to create a progression or “bridge” for the individual being coached. If successful, this takes them from the reflective phase of the coaching intervention to the point at which tangible change at least starts to happen. Unfortunately, while the intention may be laudable, the reality is often that individuals often “stay on the bridge” and do not get to the other side.  This is frequently because all of these models still put significant stress on the personal input side of the equation and therefore may cause a person being coached to become overly consumed by the feedback they are getting (and either want to spend time dealing with it or squeezing up the time they have for action).  In some cases (the “GROW” model being a good example) even the steps proposed are mainly input side oriented. The GROW model suggests mainly personal or inner challenges at the “G”, “R” and “O” stages and even with “will” it is essentially  a thought process about how to become motivated to act. It therefore seems that we need to go further, if we really want substantive change to occur.

Output-based coaching models

While there are a plethora of input-based coaching models, there are relatively few output-based coaching models.  This is partly because the input-based approaches have been popular in the last decade or so. However, it is also because such output-based models are still evolving in the executive coaching field.

There are 4 models that attempt to describe a more action-oriented coaching process. These are “aMAP2™”, “CIGAR”, “OUTCOMES™” and the “RESULTS™” model. Let’s look briefly at each of these.

The “aMAP2™” model, developed by Devers and Kulesa, attempts to be a transformational process to use when coaching an individual. It stands for Action by Motivating, Awareness and Possibilities using Powerful questions (and therefore has similarities to Revans Action-learning methodology).  The “aMAP2™” approach is clearly implementation focused in asking both the coach and the person being coached to consider change issues. However, in its application individuals may still be led towards greater reflection than doing something differently (unless led strongly by the individual coach).

The “CIGAR” approach was evolved by several consultants using the GROW model. This acronym stands for C-Current situation, I -for Ideal outcome, G-for the gap between C and I, A –for action plan and finally R –for Review. On the surface, the CIGAR model is well-balanced in its steps. However, in practice, too much stress is often placed on current problems and ideal solutions, rather than practical options which can help the individual to move positively forward.

The “OUTCOMES™” model, developed by management consultant and executive coach Allan Mackintosh, has similarities to the “GROW” model in some of its aspects. However, it particularly attempts to stretch into the “action sphere” by adding 3 steps at the end, all of which are focused on creating much more general impetus for change.

The steps of the OUTCOMES™ model are: O = Objectives. U = Understand the Reasons. T = Take Stock of the Present Situation. C = Clarify the Gap. O = Options Generation. M = Motivate to Action.E = Enthusiasm & Encouragement. S= Support.

Like the “GROW” coaching model, the “OUTCOMES™”  process still provides no real stages for implementation, actual adjustment or review of post-change success. This perhaps is where the “RESULTS™” model, developed by Warner Results Coaching, is the only model to have multiple steps in this area.

The “RESULTS™” model incorporates similar stages to both “GROW”, “CIGAR”  and “OUTCOMES™” in the first 3 steps of the process. However, the last 4 steps are very much change-implementation focused, with the “T” and “S” stages in particular being seen to be the most critical. The full “RESULTS™” model is as follows:

R=Reflect -Take time to think, ask questions and re-frame, E=Evaluate -Carefully assess all the forward options , S=Strategize -Select the plan(s) with the best chance of succeeding,U=Understand -Appreciate what resources will be needed to succeed, L=Listen -Pay attention to the input of employees and colleagues, T=Take Action  -Implement plans and follow-though persistently,S= Systematize -Ensure that processes are permanently changed.

A question of balance

There is no doubt that both “input-based”, “bridge” and “output-based” coaching all play a valuable role in helping managers at all levels to gain helpful insights and to increase their overall contribution or performance. However, in this article we have been advocating that the balance of effort (in time and resources) has been too much skewed to the “input” side of things and in fact may be wise to establish a more balanced approach.

If we seek to simply illustrate some of the models that we have been talking about above, we can perhaps do this best by using a sort of funnel as follows:

This diagram suggests that an individual being coached is effectively “processed” from top to bottom, with input-based coaching models being used initially or at the beginning of the coaching journey and output-based models used at later stages in the particular intervention, or more towards the end.  Bridge coaching processes can stretch themselves along the path on occasions but in the main tend to occur towards the beginning and in the middle of an intervention.

If we represent this model in terms of how much time is spent at each part of the coaching process, it would probably look something like the following:

As we can see, input-based coaching dominates both coach and the recipient executive time and effort, leaving output-based interventions highly squeezed. This simply means that the early feedback processes need to be not only shortened somewhat but should be more future focused in terms of changed behavior or processes that would be beneficial down the track.

Summary

In this article, it has been suggested that many of the currently used coaching models play a useful role in the modern executive coaching realm, bringing useful thinking structures to individuals and in helping to more readily develop well-thought through forward plans. However, there are many more input-based models than output based ones and this heavily consumes the energy of both a given coach and recipient of the coaching, leaving too little time and energy for later substantive change. It may therefore be time to re-think where most of the current executive coaching effort is invested. This may well mean  creating much more time to support individual change action and to help an individual to consolidate the gains made, than allowing him or her to become overly focused or even consumed by feedback (as interesting as it may be) if it doesn’t take the individual positively forward.

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LIFE COACHING INSIGHTS

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Life Coaching Insights

The Wheel of Life and Coaching

As a life coach I work to reveal more choices for my clients than they often believe they have. To do this it is essential to build a balanced partnership based on trust and ask questions to provoke insights,  enable self discovery and generate actions.

A useful structure to consider a clients current position is the Wheel of Life. This looks at 8 major dimensions in life and helps to pinpoint specific issues.

The areas considered are:

  1. Relationships – with intimate others and a wider circle of friends and other people
  2. Health
  3. Finance
  4. Career
  5. Physical environment
  6. Romance
  7. Personal development and growth
  8. Leisure, fun and recreation

Using the dimensions helps to articulate and explore key issues as perceived by a client based on their beliefs and values.

An example in the Health dimension might be “I can’t stop smoking” or in the Personal Development dimension “I am no good at maths”

Whenever I hear the “I can’t” statements I work to help the client reposition the statements to (for example) “right now I believe that I can’t stop smoking”. Or “as things are now I believe that I am not very good at maths”

This opens up possibilities and choices for the future and highlights that it is just a current, self limiting belief being used and not a fact.

It can move the focus to more reflective options such as what will it take to stop smoking or what will it take to develop my mathematical skills.

I find that What Will It Take thinking opens up more fertile ground for being resourceful to achieve change.

A reflective question :

What will it take to nurture, develop or use a gift or talent you have that you are not using now

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LIFE COACHING – One perception
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MEANING AND PURPOSE IN LIFE
Transendent picture

Socrates famously observed that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” The implication is that we have to go deep if we want to give our lives a sense of meaning and purpose.
These things do not emerge without some measure of contemplation. So finding moments of silence, both short and long, becomes an important spiritual discipline. There we can learn to release our fears and to approach others with gratitude. There, in the absence of noise, we can learn the truth about ourselves and about our place in the family of things.
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once noted in a sermon, “but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters. Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.”
A model that considers levels of gratification can provide some insights:
Level 1: Immediate Gratification.
We all know about this one. “You’re worth it! Get it now! Why wait, you deserve it.” The benefit to Level 1 happiness is that it usually works … for a while. When the good feelings wear off, though, we can often find ourselves emptier than before. If we’re honest, we usually “live” at Level 1 when we are trying to feel better about ourselves or to avoid or subdue our fears. It’s a pretty shallow happiness.
Level 2: Gratification through Achievement.
This one is less self-centered than Level 1. We are using our talents to achieve goals, to accomplish something good. There will be some short-term gain and we can experience a sense of success. If we remain here, though, we might become fearful of failure, isolated, jealous, and cynical. Happiness becomes something to be worked at endlessly. After years of this, the burden can become overwhelming.
Level 3: Gratification through Contribution.
In this level we take our eyes off ourselves and begin serving others, helping to meet their needs. The benefits of this kind of living can far outweigh more self-centered tendencies. We begin to see ourselves as part of a community, able to make a real difference in the lives of others. Our own happiness increases as we stop grasping for it.
Level 4: Transcendent Gratification.
At this level we are living for a purpose that is larger than us, something truly worthy of a life, worthy of our life. We seek the happiness and joy of others by giving our energy to justice, peace, beauty, love. We are living for something that will outlast us, something that will contribute to many, many lives, not simply our own.
From this perspective it is “Transcendent” because it gets us in touch with that which is beyond us. You may notice that those who are happiest become the kind of people that naturally use their signature strengths, in a virtuous fashion to make a contribution.
It is sometimes observed that people who gain power, control and money in their business lives think this will make them happy. Many of them will tell you it’s an illusion.

Coaching reflection…

Could it could just be that those who don’t see it as an illusion haven’t thought about it ?

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