Coaching for organisational sustainability

November 21st, 2008  |  Published in Coaching  |  2 Comments

One of the implications of constant change in the business environment is uncertainty in the shelf life of knowledge and skills; there is no guarantee that strategies and ruses that work well today will do a good job tomorrow. In response, many organisations are attracted to the notion of manager as coach as it offers the potential for creating and delivering focused, personalised and on-the-job development solutions as and when required. Nice theory but the reality is that many coaching frameworks work on the basis of transferring existing knowledge and skills and are therefore limited in their ability to help people embrace change in a sustainable way. It seems useful therefore to enlarge the boundaries of the coaching process so that they reach beyond the transfer of knowledge and skills and encompass how to be effective when confronted with novelty and ambiguity. Emphasising learning to learn rather than learning to perform if you will.

SLOW coaching provides a toolkit for nurturing change at three levels: action – where the emphasis is on performance and delivering results; skills – where the focus is on practice and stretching capability; and learning – where the goal is to uncover potential, catalyse different thinking and create new opportunities.

The table below summarises some of the contrasts between traditional coaching postures and SLOW coaching:

Traditional coaching SLOW coaching
Environment Stable enough to be predictable Novel, ambiguous and uncertain
Change seen as Interruption to status quo The basic routine
Coaching relationship Based on authority and power Based on mutual participation and learning
Basic agenda Remedial, problem solving Identifying and creating opportunities
Outcomes Improving performance Increasing adaptability, accessing potential
Criteria for solutions One best way Many good ways
Mode of influence Control Information


  1. Chris Barker says:

    August 25th, 2009 at 20:23 (#)

    Is Golds saying to Owen: “I’m telling you, this belly used to be THIS much bigger!!!”



  2. Jon says:

    August 25th, 2009 at 21:23 (#)

    It certainly looks that way!

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