The visual (cognitive) coach

Visualization allows us to connect things faster. This is not new. As it is also not new the fact that words get lost in translation. And it is widely accepted that images prevail across languages, dialects and cultures.  

Even language before becoming codified with the sumerians and latter phoenicians was provided with a set of drawings. Chinese characters are the best example of that. 

So when you read about how a mathematical genius like Daniel Tammet calculates solutions using literally astronomical numbers you wonder… how does he do it? 

If you ask him he will tell you – he visualizes it. Literally. It seems number 15 is a beautiful number. 

And given our natural ability to perceive images faster than words no wonder why some multiply drawing with better,  simpler and faster results than using a typical algorithm to do it. 

Having said so I thought if we could visualize the coaching process or if by any chance we could help others seeing their own way…visualy. 

It seems someone else thought about and she makes a living out of it! 

There is community of visual coaches who ensures visual cues really help with the coaching process.  

We are about to start! 

How do you want to be remembered? 

At the beginning of his perennial book Steve Covey depicts the farewell ceremony of a man’s lifetime. He is bringing a point on how our circle of influence can impact positively people’s life. Those lasting memories prevail through time and space and are extremely powerful in growing your own self as a person and a human being as well. I never thought about Steve Covey as a coach but being highly effective seems to help others around you too. I believe coaching can do that for you if you do it altruisticaly having the coachee in mind and leading by example. Has Michael Jackson once sang: ‘if you wanna make a change start with the man in the mirror’. 

I miss everyone from my coaching class: wishing you all Merry Christmas and a happy new year wherever you are on planet earth! 

The interplay between coaching and other interventions 

I am fascinated by transitions from hierarchical to flat organizations. My experience on the floor has made me cognizant that coaching demands special conditions that do not happen frequently at your workplace.

Therefore, either you fight a battle of titans between time and space or you find other forms of support services we may use for the benefit of that intervention. 
So what other methods may complement coaching within the plethora of situations we have at the workplace and how do they match and connect to each other? 

How would those methods support your holistic role whilst coaching a whole team? 

And first of all why is this important? Well… we hear about perfect ventures whereupon employees love each other and life feels like a fairy tale. 

If you build your business from scratch you can place the blocks you want where you want. The most difficult part is to handle the ones that exist already and manage to shift the course of the organization by working with the people, process for a profit. 

Therefore from absolute workplace harmony to workplace caos the amount of time and type of approach varies. 

In a competitive place where everyone fights each other all the time the opportunity to coach is close to zero. Then probably mediation and even some counseling would precede the coaching process.  

Then again, is the group is stuck though lots of conversations happening? Probably,  evaluating and collaboration would make more sense.  

There is no magic formula so far unless the book I am reading tells me the opposite: see here.  

You can’t coach all times

When you listen to life coaches addressing you on YouTube you wonder if Coaching is the sole way of interaction. Then finding those coachable moments in the conundrum of stress that abound in most corporate worlds becomes a witch hunt too. So I wonder…Is coaching there to be your guiding light at the end of the tunnel? Can you coach yourself to increase your self-awareness? Can coaching be combined with other methods enhancing your performance as a coach?

Coaching can be a tool for yourself and others if you base your actions on the principles of trust, learning and autonomy. But practicing self-managing, self-monitoring and self-modifying is what makes the difference. So what are the methods that when used together allow us to improve our coaching skills regardless if you are coaching yourself, another person or a group of persons? According to Costa and Garmston there is a interplay between cognitive coaching, collaboration, consulting and evaluating. Question is: how to manage all the above at the same time whilst facilitating thinking? 

From Agile to Cognitive Coaching

For the past year, I have been exploring and practicising Agile and Coaching as a collective application of Scrum principles in several HR teams. 

I had as a reference two books: one is the Essential Scrum by Kenny Rubin, a bed side companion for scrummers at all levels and another book called Coaching Agile Teams by Lisa Adkins. 

These are great books: the first provides a very comprehensive approach to what is scrum from an overview to a very comprehensive approach to deployment. The second one, more about Scrum teams start-ups facilitation and managing the whole Scrum process as a proficient Scrum Master. 

On another note, and looking into collaborative thinking processe I found out that Collaborative Thinking is considered a procedure wherein a group combine their strengths and backgrounds to produce ideas addressing a specific problem. It is clear the driver of this collaboration is a challenge or an opportunity.

And whithim the realm of my endeavor I found a particular paper written by Costa and Garmston that changed my perspective on coaching teams. It deboned the framework of interaction between the facilitator and a group. So cognitive coaching is a path to develop self-directed learning in any individual. It encompasses three major pillars: trust, learning and autonomy. In doing so, cognitive coaches embrace and master self-managing, self-monitoring and self-modifying.

1. Self-Managing means approaching tasks with clarity of outcomes, a strategic plan, and necessary data, and then draw from past experiences, anticipate success indicators, and create alternatives for accomplishment.

2. Self-Monitoring: refers to establishing metacognitive strategies to alert the perceptions for in-the-moment indicators of whether the strategic plan is working and to assist in the decision-making processes of altering the plan if it is not.

3. Self-Modifying: They reflect on, evaluate, analyze, and construct meaning from the experience and apply the learning to future activities, tasks, and challenges.

Why was this important?

Cognitive Coaching was correlated with increased student success as well as impacting teacher thinking, causing teachers to be more reflective and to think in
more complex ways. Teachers were more satisfied with their positions and with their choice of teaching as a profession. School cultures became more professional. Teachers collaborated more improving professionally and personally. 
So can this apply to the corporate world benifiting the business? I believe Agile coaching to be a new artifact assisted form of cognitive coaching. Therefore, from agile to cognitive coaching I found my way through, but the story isn’t finished…

Is coaching taking over?

I recently came across a paper by Angelina Rosha and was amazed by the fact that coaching is taking over many other areas we believe not to be connected with coaching. And after reading the paper I had this burning question: is coaching taking over?

The word etiology comes from the name of an Hungarian village called Kocs where it is said the best carriages in the 16th century were produced. Later the word ‘coaching’ was known as a play of words but often associated with supporting university students and academic attainment. Later the word ‘coaching’ as we know today came to be known in the 20th century by the hand of Timothy Galleys (1974) book The Inner Game of Tennis and John Whitmore’s Coaching for performance (1988) presenting the G.R.O.W. model.

As the activity of coaching spread across different areas – two coaching streams came to fruition: one, goal oriented coaching aiming at relatively immediate results, and another on personal development coaching, which is focused on coachee’s long-term deeper understanding and self-awareness. This explains why we have such a diversified universe of institutions teaching coaching and more recently certifying professionals. Likewise, professional coaches come from all paths of life enriching the field of coaching and its momentum towards society.

In short, coaching was a deductive and goal oriented intervention that later evolved from a directive to non-directive intervention with a myriad of approaches to consider (Rosha, 2013). The question is: will it take over all other areas of targeted intervention? The comparison between all types of intervention explains visually that coaching can indeed embrace all. So what do you think?

Coaching, Mediation, Mentoring, Teaching, Consultancy, Therapy, Counseling, Training = Coaching?

Following my previous post on ‘Is coaching taking over?’ I decided to explore the differences and commonalities of coaching towards consultancy, counseling, mentoring, mediation, therapy, teaching and training. So let’s see if coaching is taking over…

Coaching and Mentoring refer to what we are supposed to achieve making clear the current and future state of things. Coaching bridges the gap allowing the coachee (client) to find their own way and is based on present and work related issues. Mentoring  is about assistance, guidance, advice in the assumption that leading by example and asking the mentored to follow his steps success ensues. Mediation is interestingly different. It is a process (people, process, problem) wherein you have at least two parties and a mediator. The mediator identify issues, develop options, consider alternatives, enlighten both parties about the consequences of those options and then creates a common agenda of consensual actions and connects them to desired outcomes. This translates into win-win agreements. Mediation is focused on resolving conflict, coaching starts with the individual and in that assuming the coachee has the potential to prevent the conflict to happen. Therefore, “same, same but different” (in aims).
Consultancy and coaching have a similar focus – business. Notwithstanding, coaching is focused on the development of the individual and his/her skills themselves whilst consultancy strives for providing answer to burning problem or question. Consultancy – training blended both and placed corporate training between consultancy and teaching. Teaching and skills training are activities aiming at transferring knowledge through a sequence of activities and interactions. Some more interactive and agile other unilaterally communicated to people who are expected to learn and demonstrate – trainee or students. Coaching on the other hand provides support to enhance coachee skills and inspire him to maximize his/her personal and professional potential. Soft-skills training is indeed closer to coaching. Nevertheless, a primary assumption that sets coaching apart is that the coachee is the expert not the trainer or teacher. Last but not least, the difference between counseling, therapy and coaching. Coaching is focusing on growth. Both therapy and counseling like in Mediation deal with a problem. Coaching explores the problem as an opportunity to evolve. Is constructive and positive.

Cross-reference on Coaching semantics and other intervention methods


Counseling Mentoring Mediation Therapy Teaching


Coaching Both focus on business but provide different ways to solve them.

Coaching understands that the individual has the solution whilst consultancy the consultant has it.

Counseling aims at fixing the problem usually ending up with one solution. Coaching aims at exploring the problem with the intent to have the coachee finding his own solutions. Mentoring is about following the steps of the wise more experience mentor. Coaching is about allowing the coachee to find his own way. Very close to coaching but aimed at solving conflicts. So mediation would be more reactive alas Coaching more proactive in that the coachee awareness shall prevent conflict to happen. Same as Counseling aims at fixing the problem. Usually more serious and involving physiological or biological implications Coaching aims at healing using coachee own awareness power of healing. Transferring knowledge assuming the teacher knows and the student is ignorant. In coaching the coachee not the coach is an expert.

Hard skills or job related training is similar to teaching. Soft skills training is closer to coaching assuming the trainee needs nurturing of his natural abilities.

Complexity and Conflict two sides of the same coin? 

This time I was a coachee! It feels great to be the center of someone’s attention. So we were focused on how providing too much information to your peers at work can create conflict. In other words how complexity combined with speed at work can bring conflict to the table of day-to-day conversations. From the 45 min evolution I found that there is a conspicuous need to scan the recipient needs for info as you speak. And sometimes less is more. Therefore, we agree to use a modified PACT model to transitioning conversations and inteactions with peers at work. I also found that one cannot expect that the recipient of your message clearly understands it and expect him/her to reply in the same proportion or measure on the context of what is requested from me. And I found this is were my expectations need to be leveled so I do not get disappointed. Therefore I need to measure complexity regardless of the context as to avoid rejection or conflict before engaging people around me. 

Coaching 121 to Millenials, do they really wanna talk?

I am dazzled by the video about Millennials by Simon Sinek.

What is missing? Parenting, Patience, Technology and Environment: 15 min of Sinek at his best!

I agree with an ancient African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” And there are situations — usually when a crisis occurs — when we must go as far as we can as quickly as we can. I am among those who are convinced that even great leaders cannot motivate others but they can inspire others to be self-motivated (Morris, 2016).

“About three and a half years ago, I made a discovery. And this discovery profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world worked, and it even profoundly changed the way in which I operate in it. As it turns out, there’s a pattern. As it turns out, all the great inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers, they all think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All I did was codify it, and it’s probably the world’s simplest idea. I call it the golden circle.”

Reflections 02

I had a chance to meet one of my colleagues for lunch and reflect on the past month coaching sessions. He seemed very confident and meet all his goals.  He referred to as being able to recall and apply his own skills at a consciously competent level. I was more on trying to understand how you wake up your dormant coaching skills and was puzzled to understand that even with a life changing attitude you may end up not using your skills if you are not aware of that need. So I wondered what kid of cues can we elect and elicit so you coaching g heart is there all the time?  What are the real outstanding elements that reinforce the habit of coaching at all times? Finding coachable moments and become smart about finding those is for sure a discipline. The natural ability is built on practice and the key word is… Listen.