Home Research History of Coaching Professional Challenges Facing the Coaching Field from an Historical Perspective

Professional Challenges Facing the Coaching Field from an Historical Perspective

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A diffusion of innovation curve is a standard bell curve and it illustrates what happens with adaptation to a new phenomenon. It begins with the innovators, the people who are the adventurous ones who may see it before it really happens, and follows with the early adopters or early opinion leaders in the community. This is the model of Everett Rogers (Orr, 2003) which was not well known until Gladwell popularized it in 2002. The innovators are those who say “there is a better way of doing this” and the early adopters are those who say “Hey, this is really cool–I’m on board”. Next we have the early and late majority, which are the two largest groups. The early majority are the masses who include three types of individuals who say “I will train people to be effective coaches”, “We need a professional association with ethics and standards to self-regulate this new field” and “me too I’m a coach -I will get some training to be an even better coach and provide this service in my current line of work.”

The late majority is composed of those people say: “I guess coaching isn’t just the fad of the year. It might be around for a while. I guess I will provide coaching for a specific niche, use technology to provide low cost coaching to the common person, or maybe add coaching to my business card and profit from this movement.” It is between the early and late majority groups that the innovation curve starts tipping. As the phenomenon gains more acceptance and standardization, there is less innovation and the curve begins to drop off. Finally, we have the laggards who, like the reactions of some psychologists to coaching, initially resisted coaching and subsequently wished to oversee the field or at least contribute rigor and structure to the field of coaching. What happened with contribution by psychologists to the coaching field? They might add something new-a new innovation curve is formed. The psychologists, who have been the laggards, might become the innovators.

The tipping point is where the phenomenon has a life of its own and it begins showing up everywhere. Gladwell describes a viral epidemic–which can be positive or negative –that follows the shape of this bell curve. The tipping point is when change can happen instantaneously and you don’t know where the epidemic will go.

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