Home Concepts Best Practices Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

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Welcome to Economic Hard Times

The world of economics and finance no longer looks very promising in most of the societies that currently support professional coaching. We are confronted with fundamental challenges—either the flat, hot and crowded world portrayed by Thomas Friedman or the curved and dangerous world of David Smick. In either of these worlds, professional coaching can no longer be a luxury, benefit or even a primary vehicle for avoiding litigation. Sam is undoubtedly experiencing the financial challenges facing his own hospital, given the health care crisis that is raging in the United States.

If we are experiencing hard times, then professional coaching will have to be justified with hard data that matches the hard times. In terms of the diffusion of an innovation, such as professional coaching, we will clearly be meeting the concerns of the early majority. Sam is not alone in being skeptical about the faddish claims being made by those who have marketed professional coaching during the past twenty years. We need measurement and accountability. Does this mean that all (or most) coaching programs operating within organizations must demonstrate a Return-on-Investment (ROI) or at least a Return-on-Expectations (ROE)? Perhaps we do. At the very least, it will mean that the benefits of coaching will have to be documented. We know from the research on innovation diffusion, that the early majority want evidence. This doesn’t necessarily have to be quantitative evidence—especially if this quantification results in the trivialization of the outcomes of coaching. We certainly don’t need an elaborate strategy of measurement that is based on faulty inferences or very soft data (“garbage in and garbage out”). In many cases, the early majority will be convinced by a thoughtfully prepared series of case studies. They will be convinced by an in-depth analysis of not only the outcomes of effective coaching but also some of the reasons why specific coaching strategies seem to be most successful when applied to specific organizational issues or when engaged with specific client constituencies.

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