A note on methods

There are many coaches out there and many methods of coaching in play.
David Clutterbuck, quite a famous name in the theory of coaching, has said that a good coach is not constrained by a particular method, rather they have a suite of tools and use their skill and experience to choose between them. And who could argue with that?

But (and you knew there would be a but!) it is well established that the tools we choose, the tools we gravitate to, frame how we approach problems.

So why have I chosen Time To Think™ Coaching and the Thinking Environment™ as my core coaching approach?

Divergent Thinking

One reason comes out of my experience with another framework, one designed originally for teams. It is called Simplexity and is an improvement of the basic Creative Problem Solving framework.

At the heart of Simplexity is the insight that when engaging with problems we have to iterate both our understanding of what the problem is and what form solutions might take. A crucial distinction is made between Divergent Thinking, where we explore and Convergent Thinking, where we make choices.

One of the things I value most about the Thinking Environment™ as a coaching method is that in the very design, it pays proper respect to the need for a Divergent Space. It is through this first part of exploration that we find out “what is the problem here, really?” We are all motivated to make changes by noticing things that we are dissatisfied with – but it’s always useful to take the time to see if those symptoms have some underlying cause.

Addressing Complexity

Another reason is that the exploratory nature of the Thinking Environment™ makes it a great arena for Sensemaking, which is another activity designed originally for team settings. The aspect which feels most important to individual coaching is the recognition that it is through the construction of a narrative about a situation that we actually develop our understanding of it. This is vital in thinking about complex situations. After all, if the problem were simple, it probably wouldn’t have come into the coaching arena.

Focusing On The Client

Another fundamental principle built into the Time To Think™ Coaching approach is respect for the knowledge and needs of the client. This manifests in three ways through the structure of the process.

I will note again that the key point here is not that these principles are unique, I think most forms of coaching include them, it is that because the principles are so well embedded into the structure of the Thinking Environment™ it feels like the right base for a coaching relationship to me. Many other coaches focus on other aspects – “challenge” is particularly fashionable at the moment – but I’ll address that in a later post. For me, in a complex world, these elements are key:

First, the open-ended nature of how the process begins puts the client in charge of the topic for thought. This was particularly useful as the coronavirus came on the scene as people who were part way through a multi-week process thinking about (for example) a particular situation at work found that now a really urgent new situation was evolving. Time To Think™ handles the need for flexibility very gracefully.

Second, the structure of the process means that in the first parts, the client is given an appropriate amount of space to gather their thoughts about what is going on. This respects both the need for information before problem solving (another principle from my Creative Problem Solving days) and the basic fact that for the majority of hard problems the client is the one who has most of the information about the situation.

Third, the Time To Think™ process, like all coaching processes, has a method for moving from problem definition through to thinking about solutions. What I like about Time To Think™ is that the process leans heavily towards making sure that the problem definition and solution come from you. There is a focus on how you would sum up the situation and how you would phrase thinking about a solution. This is important because it helps ensure your ownership of the solution and this is vital to making it stick. If you have created the way forward, you are much more likely to walk down that path.

In closing, any description is necessarily dry and theoretical, if you’re curious about how this might work for you, consider booking a free 30 minute introductory conversation here.

I offer Time To Think™ Coaching, an extremely pure form of coaching, in London and online. It is particularly effective for people feeling extra pressure in work or life, people starting or ending major projects and those embarking on serious change. In a busy world, we all need Time To Think™ and a Thinking Environment™ is the perfect place for you to do your best, freshest thinking.

Pricing: £100 per hour session. £125 for Central London appointments when lockdown is over.

Discounts available for block bookings or those with special circumstances.

Click here to book a free introductory conversation, or to book a full appointment.

Contact me to ask about discounts.

Posted by Indy Neogy in Coaching, CPS, Time To Think