I continue to agree with Rey regarding the credibility of Internet surveys. It is much better to gather opinions, perspectives and concerns from respondents through in-depth personal interviews, observation of performance (rather than just rhetoric), and phenomenological single-person case studies. If the field and culture of professional coaching is to become “evidence-rich” and research-based, as Francine Campone and Deepa Awal noted in the first report based on this Development of Coaching project, then we need much more than Internet-based survey results.
However, as Rey Carr himself has noted, the results from the current surveys can be of value as “talking points” and places to start the dialogue. By offering these provocative findings, we are providing an incentive for what in one of our previous reports we called creating a culture of collaboration. These survey results might even provide sufficient irritation to motivate someone or some organization with sufficient resources to conduct higher quality research. Results from the present analyses could prove to be particularly challenging (or at least intriguing). My highly speculative discussion of these results will hopefully provoke more refined research. I would fully welcome such an initiative.
Completed in 2009 by 153 coaches from throughout the world, the first survey was followed by a second version that was distributed in 2015 (with only minor editing changes) by the Library of Professional Coaching in cooperation with ITLCInsights. Fifty-eight coaches provided responses to the second questionnaire — yielding a total of 211 responses to the two surveys. The time interval between the two surveys was six years, enabling us to get a preliminary sense of possible changes in coaching attitudes over this period of time, as well as a sense of stability (low levels of difference in mean scores and variance) in the attitudes of professional coaches regarding their own development.
Unlike most coaching surveys, the two surveys conducted in 2009 and 2015 were directed toward those actually doing the coaching, rather than the users of coaching services. These surveys were completed by a widely ranging group of coaches – in terms of geography, schools of coaching, age and years of experience in providing coaching services. These two surveys are also distinctive in that they have been being conducted by organizations (the Library of Professional Coaching and ITLCInsights) that have no specific stake in the outcomes and are being distributed to practitioners at many levels of practice and status. These surveys are truly ‘”neutral” and “democratizing”—though, as Rey Carr has noted, the results obtained via Survey Monkey must be considered quite tentative and suggestive rather than definitive.