The practice of coaching is expanding rapidly, yet the process and impact of coaching is seriously under-researched. This blog reports on empirical and conceptual research being undertaken by me and my research team when working at the University of Surrey, UK and now at the University of Greenwich..
I recently had an article published in the magazine Coaching at Work, looking at a new, growing phenomenon - Flash Mob coaching. This seems to be 'taking coaching to the people', popularising the art of coaching. Here is the article:
Flash mob - the future of
coaching? – David
E Gray, University of Greenwich
A new phenomenon may be about to hit the world of coaching.
We are more than familiar with delivering business coaching, executive
coaching, life coaching, sports coaching or one of their many combinations or
hybrids.Now enter Flash Mob Coaching
(FMC). The flash mob has been with us for a few years. First created in
Manhattan in 2003, flash mobs are a group of people who congregate suddenly at
a pre-arranged place to perform a brief and seemingly pointless act often
connected with entertainment, satire or free expression. The event itself is
usually organised via social media sites such as Facebook, or through viral
emails (messages that, largely because of their popularity, get passed from one
person to another). Flash Mob Coaching gets a group (mob) of coaches out onto a
city street to engage people passing by to experience a free, ten minute
coaching session. One of the UK's first Flash Mob Coaching events took place in
September during the International Coach Federation's international conference.
The brainchild and inspiration of Shivani Mair, 38 ICF
attendees answered the call and turned up to the briefing session. Some were
new to the UK and all were certainly new to FMC. Afterwards many talked about
being out of their "comfort zone", whilst others commented on being
at the "growing edge of coaching". Many felt the sense of danger and
personal challenge - "It was an experiment for me".
Shivani briefed the coaches, setting out the aims of the
event, one of which was to develop themselves as coaches and to have powerful
conversations. Clearly some were petrified by the prospect! However, having
pulled on their ICF teeshirts, off they set for Hammersmith Broadway.
Over the next hour and a half, 64 members of the public
experienced a ten minute, one-to-one coaching conversation as they stood on a
busy UK high street.Of course, many
more people than this we're approached, and all coaches experienced multiple
rejections (which some coped with better than others).But what comes strongly through the feedback
from both coachees and coaches is the level of learning and inspiration that
resulted for both parties.
Evaluation through emails and video clips (a film crew were
on hand to elicit immediate feedback) provided powerful stories and testimonies
of impact.As one coachee commented,
"Just keep doing whatever it is you are doing 'cos you have no idea how
deep what you are doingis. It's
amazing". Others talked about boosting confidence and gaining the
inspiration to take action. For others, the coaching brought out something that
they had been holding back for some time. The session provided insights and the
opportunity to reflect.Let's remind
ourselves - these changes were achieved in ten minutes or less!
And what about the coaches? There was a strong air of
realism in the responses.One commented
that "street coaching is not for me", while another reflected on how
constant rejection drained her energy levels. But others found that people
would tell them their deepest thoughts within 3 minutes! They learned to
overcome their fear of approaching people. "Stop worrying and just do
it". The session has inspired participants to commit to launching FMC in
Belgium, Sweden, the USA, Germany and Ireland.
Coaches spend a lot of time marketing themselves, hoping
clients will come to them.Perhaps in
FMC we have found the vehicle for taking coaching to the people.
This article appeared in Coaching at Work, December 2012.