The innovators are explorers who set out to discover something new without quite knowing what they will discover or need to invent in order to survive in the new-found wilderness. Early adopters are the pioneers who have some ideas about where they are moving (based on information and maps provided by the explorers) but fully realize that this will be a new land in which there will be some minimal established structures or social norms. The third group (early majority) is made up of the early settlers who establish enterprises (farming, mining, etc.). Typically, they also help to build a town and bring a little law-and-order to this fledgling town.
The next group (late majority) only move to the town when it is established. Members of this group often bring the structures and social norms from their old town (or city) to the new one. These are the burghers, who soon become the town officials, teachers and certifiers. Finally, there are the recalcitrants. These are the folks who stay “back home.” They don’t want to take any risks and often resist those who have left home with their resources and expertise. They often declare: “Why do people have to change or move!” The members of this group tend to be guardians of the old traditions and established norms and standards. They don’t fully understand or appreciate what is happening “way off” on the frontier.
Does this story of frontier town development ring true regarding the history of professional coaching as a new human service field? I would suggest that there is some alignment—especially as I review the remarkable history of coaching offered by my colleague, Vikki Brock (2012). There are the explorers (people like Galway, Erhard and Olalla) who were tinkering several decades ago with some new ideas about how best to serve other people. They often brought in ideas and practices from diverse fields and disciplines (such as transpersonal and cognitive behavioral therapy, analytic philosophy and neuroscience) as well as religious traditions (such as Buddhism). Pioneers can be found among the women and men (such as Thomas Leonard and Laura Whitworth) who established the first practices that could be called “coaching.” They wrote many of the first books on professional coaching that had coaching in the title and established the first formal training programs (such as Coach U and the Coach Training Institute).