Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 1, Issue 39;   September 26, 2001: Coaching and Haircuts

Coaching and Haircuts

by

Lifelong learners use a variety of approaches, usually relying heavily on reading. Reading works well for some ideas and techniques, especially for those with limited emotional content. For adding other skills and perceptions, consider a personal coach.

If you're reading this, you're probably someone who loves to learn. That's why you're probably pretty good at whatever you do, and why you want to get better at it. Reading is part of your educational program, and — obviously — I hope it remains so.

Getting a haircutYou probably also feel some frustration. You read. You learn ten ways to do this and seven steps to do that. And you make some progress. You've achieved some goals you've set, and some goals remain out there, even though you've been trying for ten months. Or ten years.

Reading can get you through some things, and not others. When you want to make a change, and reading hasn't helped, consider a personal coach.

Coaching styles and arrangements vary. In a typical program, you meet with your coach two to four times each month for from one-half to one hour, either in person or by phone. You can set up any arrangement that works for you. You're in charge.

If you're considering a coach, here are a few things to watch out for.

Recognize that you'll do most of the work
Being coached is different from getting a haircut. For a haircut, the haircutter does the work, not you. In coaching, depending on the style, the coach offers guidance, questions, wisdom, suggestions, support, encouragement, or even homework. But you do the work, not the coach.
Pay a reasonable fee
Being coached is different
from getting a haircut.
For a haircut, the haircutter
does the work, not you.
In coaching, you do
the work, not the coach.
Suppose you find someone to coach you for an unreasonably low fee. While this might work for some people, most will have difficulty doing the hard work needed. Most of us need the motivation of having made a serious financial commitment.
Know what you want to accomplish
You'll have a much better experience if you have a clear idea of where you want to go. Then you and your coach will decide to work on some achievable goals, and with guidance from your coach, you'll achieve them.
Choose a coach who doesn't know your organization
You'll get more insights (aha!s) when you explain your work situation to someone who's ignorant of your organization. You're forced to explain things from the very beginning, and that's often where the obstacles appear.
Choose a coach who isn't coaching anyone you know
A coach who has as a client someone in your life has a conflict of interest. Some coaches believe that these conflicts are manageable. I disagree. Steer clear.

In the end, "chemistry" helps determine the outcome of a coaching relationship. Sometimes you can tell when you first talk to someone that he or she is not your coach. Sometimes it takes a few sessions to know. Notice your feelings and trust them, just like you would after a haircut. Go to top Top  Next issue: Don't Worry, Anticipate!  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

The end of the line for a railroad trackComing May 30: Chronic Peer Interrupters: I
When making contributions to meeting discussions, we're sometimes interrupted. Often, the interruption is beneficial and saves time. But some people constantly interrupt their peers or near peers, disrespectfully, in a pattern that compromises meeting outcomes. How can we deal with chronic peer interrupters? Available here and by RSS on May 30.
Mohandas K. Ghandi, in the 1930sAnd on June 6: Chronic Peer Interrupters: II
People use a variety of tactics when they're interrupted while making contributions in meetings. Some tactics work well, while others carry risks of their own. Here's Part II of a little survey of those tactics. Available here and by RSS on June 6.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenkWFaWuSQPPZBSOwcner@ChacNPmOtpfLkszdhbbyoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

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This Technical Debt Management: Making the Business Caseprogram outlines the steps necessary for deploying a program for rational management of technical debt. For many organizations, adopting a program for rationally managing technical debt entails organizational change. And unlike some organizational changes, this one touches almost everyone in the organization, because technical debt isn't merely a technical problem. Technical debt manifests itself in technological assets, to be sure, but its causes are rarely isolated to the behavior and decisions of engineers. We can't resolve the problem of chronically excessive levels of technical debt by changing the behavior of engineers alone. Technical debt is the symptom, not the problem. In this program we outline the essential elements of an effective business case for adopting a rational technical debt management program. But this business case, unlike many business cases, cannot be captured in a document. We must make the case not only at the leadership level of the organization, but also at the level of the individual contributor. Everyone must understand. Everyone must contribute. We explore five issues that make technical debt so difficult to manage, and develop five guidelines for designing technical debt management strategies for the modern enterprise. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

The Race to the South Pole: The Power of Agile Development
On 14The Race to the Pole: An Application of Agile Development December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. Lessons abound. Among the more important lessons are those that demonstrate the power of the agile approach to project management and product development. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

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