At the heart of any diffusion process is the issue of credibility. From the perspective of a potential coaching client the two fundamental diffusion questions are: Why should I want to engage the services of a coach? How can a coach help me assess the credibility of new ideas that are being thrown at me every day? At the heart of the matter for both the coach and potential client is the question: What are the ingredients that make an innovation “respectable”? How did professional coaching become respectable—or is it still at the fringe of organizational life? What about the credibility of other ideas that are being offered to or generated by coaching clients? An organizational coach can be of great assistance in helping her client sort out the credibility of potential innovations in her organization. Is there a solid base of evidence to support the credibility of this innovative idea or practice? This doesn’t necessarily mean that the idea or practice is already proven to be successful—there certainly is great value in the encouragement of exploratory and pioneering work. The idea or practice, however, should be linked to the information already existing in the organization about need, resources and opportunities. It should also be aligned with the core intentions (mission, vision, values, and purposes) of the organization.
But what about the even more fundamental credibility issue: is coaching itself a credible idea and practice? We must often look to the establishment of a profession if we are specifically considering the credibility and long-term acceptance of a new type of human service initiative—such as coaching. During the 1970s, Bledstein proposed that American society is deeply enmeshed in a culture of professionalism. By extension, other societies are also moving toward a culture in which professional credentials are replacing social-economic class structures as the defining criterion for social stratification (Bledstein, 1976). This social dynamic would seem to be particularly poignant with regard to a newly-emerging field like professional coaching. The concepts and strategies associated with the diffusion of innovation are directly relevant to those seeking to establish professional coaching as a viable and enduring human service enterprise and are of great value as guidelines regarding the expectations and needs of those who are seeking to make use of the distinctive services being offered by a professional coach.Download Article 1K Club