I offer potential and current clients with growing enthusiasm short coaching conversations, lasting no longer than 10 to 15 minutes, on Skype or on the phone. But there are huge prejudices against this type of coaching. That is why I want to share my experiences in speed coaching with you.
How long does a coaching conversation have to be, to prove its effectiveness?
Coaching originates in Psychotherapy and this again had started with Sigmund Freud. Freud established a tradition of countless conversations in the framework of a perennial therapy. Then, later on, developed person centered therapy by Carl R. Rogers which also included long and intensive conversations. And the so called systemic turn in Psychotherapy and its spin offs in coaching and counseling didn´t change this picture much: the assumed proportionality of duration and impact of a conversation continues to prevail.
It was Steve de Shazer, who, together with Insoo Kim Berg, changed the perception of impact in therapy and coaching to some extent. In the 1970s they developed their solution focused brief therapy. Tools like the “miracle question” enable to shortcut a conversation and jump directly to the space of solution. Solution focused coaching conversation are, for instance, helpful in decision making. They might end after only one session. But several meetings over a period of days up to months are still normal.
With this background in mind what would you think of a coaching conversation that is restricted to a length of 10 to 15 minutes?
I have been experiencing speed coaching for about three years. First, when I was a trainee at The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and later on when I prepared for my final exams as a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC). I worked as well with trained coaches and with people, who were not familiar with coaching at all. My conclusion so far is: speed coaching is intense, to the point; it is fun and gives a lot of energy.
In 2013 I came across a project of a coach from London. Shivani Mair has been organizing so called coaching flash mobs since 2012. Volunteer coaches deliver speed coaching sessions to members of the public at random, in busy UK public places, for free. The mission: to spread the word about the impact of coaching. I was excited and volunteered for such an event. In November 2013 together with 15 coaches and assistants we flooded Carnaby Street in London and had conversations and speed coaching sessions with more than 170 people in four hours.
What was our impact? Here are some examples of feedback:
“That was great! That one little step could change my life. After the speed coaching session I’m going to do new things and follow what needs to happen. The world would be better if everyone was coached!”
“The answers became apparent as soon as we started the speed coaching session. I got a real focus on the issue. Coaching is an interesting tool and it opened my eyes.
Our society needs more encouragement to have coaching conversations.”
“After the speed coaching session I feel good and courageous. I’ve often been scared of saying I’d like to be listened to, so really liked that the Our People’s Coach stop people in their busy life to give them a chance to stop and speak and look at life and find answers.”
Speed Coaching with me – what happens exactly?
The conversation is structured into five simple questions:
What would you like to be coached on?
Right from the start the attention is on a specific topic: What is the issue? Clarifying this question might be an important result of the session.
What is your goal?
Speed coaching is not about analyzing a problem. It is focused on a solution.
How will you know?
To clarify a goal is good. To act as if you have reached it is far better. In the conversation I build on the most important sensor we have – our body. You will embody and anchor the state, where a solution already exists.
What will that give you?
It is useful to view a specific goal in the light of a greater framework. To know how a goal or action fulfills our needs or in a bigger sense contributes to a good life is motivating and energizing.
What will you do?
Even very short coaching results in some sort of agreement. This might be a baby step toward a goal or an open question that brings more clarity.
How will I know?
It is possible to agree on a later on feedback message. This raises the accountability and helps to sustain the learning process.
These questions provide a structure, but are not a fixed on. They might be asked, but don’t have to be raised. They give a sense of orientation, accompanied by spontaneity and intuition. Speed coaching is playful and simple. Hence it is both fun and effective.