Edie: Well, I don’t know whether the times did it so much—the times obviously produced the people, but we had the people who were doing it. That was the times in which we were just getting over Freud and Jung. I mean, Jung was still very present. And all these guys were running around – including Kurt Lewin. These guys who had the therapeutic concept of getting to the unconscious and helping us to free ourselves for more conscious choices.
I think there’s a major difference between therapy and coaching in the sense that I do think therapy still works largely with things that are out of our consciousness, whereas that’s not as true of coaching.
Dorothy: Edie, it’s so interesting because you actually assist in the Kurt Lewin Center. If you think about Kurt Lewin in relation to coaching, how could you see his influence both on OD, and what would you want incoming people who want to learn and apply themselves in coaching to know about Kurt Lewin and his impact on coaching?
Edie: Lewin was the base for those of us at NTL—the “Father” of it all. Adult learning came along just at that time, too, Malcolm Knowles. Incidentally, my husband, Charles, just became the Fielding Graduate University’s first chair. It’s the Malcolm S. Knowles Chair in Adult Learning. Charles has it for three years.
Dorothy: Wonderful. Charles is your partner in innovation in the applied behavioral sciences and considered the father of how to use feedback in adult learning. And, a few thoughts from you on adult learning in relation to coaching.
Edie: Adult learning was a whole new concept at that time—the concept that we could actually teach adults differently than we taught children, that they learn differently, and that they could continue to learn for the rest of their lives. The belief that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks was no longer something to hang onto.
I think therapy and all these other activities support your notion of awareness. That is to say, self-awareness was a big beginning. Group awareness was next. Lewin brought the group awareness. Lewin’s basic formula is that behavior is the function of people in their environment. Behavior isn’t just random. It is actually based on the relationship between a person and their environment. Feedback is part of the way we get information to stay on target in our environment. Lewin brought feedback in as an idea, and feedback is certainly one of the baselines of coaching.Download Article 1K Club