Introducing “Leading the way into the personal knowledge bases of everyday practitioners” (Book 3 of the Translating Coaching Codes of Practice series)

What a great time to take stock, and celebrate this considerable collective achievement of the good coach community!

"...such a wide range of people and ways of practice …"
"Each article is very quick to read with a lot of ground covered!"
"This sort of openness certainly helps me think about my practice and how it works - sometimes the same, and sometimes very differently from others."
"It really opens your eyes to the big wide ranging topic coaching is about!"
"I’d like to say thank you to all these coaches who have contributed such a wealth of their thinking about their practices"
"Wow! seems very academic...!"

These are just some of the comments we've received so far since releasing Book 3, 'Leading the way into the personal knowledge bases of everyday practitioners' (of the TRANSLATING Coaching Codes of Practice series) on the 29th September 2017.  To share what's in store in Book 3, which holds and acts as a practitioner reference for over 80 written pieces by 33 authors, here is the Preface. 


The Preface

THE GOOD COACH IS GROWING AND DEVELOPING TOWARDS BECOMING A PRACTITIONER RESEARCH INSTITUTION WHOSE CORE PROPOSITION IS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS COACHING. 

Having the opportunity to year-on-year publish a new book as part of the ‘Translating Coaching Codes of Practice’ series gives the good coach community both validation and confidence that the good coach approach is making positive headway in delivering a sustainable and robust approach that is slowly reaching its vision; to touch 1 percent of the global population with inspiring, and effective, coaching conversations. 

We believe it is only through the rich and diverse contributions from each and every coaching practitioner’s to willingly engage in and share their personal experiences of professional practice that makes this project possible. Altogether we make up the good coach community. A space for experienced, as well as mature, practitioners to individually benefit from the principles underpinning the good coach, and a place where we are all collectively contributing through the good coach to a practitioner knowledge base that serves the broader community. 

Representing the community, we bring together these individual reports and accounts from the front line of every day coaching practitioners - whether as narratives, stories, cases, and other ways of professional reporting. Collectively, they begin to provide evidence that more fairly represents the diversity of approaches that exist. Each coaching practitioner is unique, with their own patterns of behaviour that they recognise as demonstrating their codes of practice from their personal knowledge base formed from all of their experiences. 


POSITIONING THE GOOD COACH ALONGSIDE TRADITIONAL INSTITUTES KNOWN FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION

In Book 2, Insights from the leading edges of every day practitioners, we shared an example of technological ingenuity from the field of biosciences the Human Genome Project (HGP): an ambitious international effort to sequence the three billion nucleotides within thirteen years that would revolutionize health and welfare benefits. As the research progressed, less than 3 percent of the DNA of a human genome was sequenced whilst the remaining 97 percent was labelled ‘junk’, unfortunately, by no less a molecular luminary than Francis Crick, co-discover of DNA’s double-helical structure.  The term initially suggested that there was a lot of non-relevant material, however as later studies progressed they turned out to be a long way from junk and morphed into the ENCODE project!

For the field of coaching this is a useful example of a cautionary tale. In traditional science, particularly natural science (which HGP belongs to), strict laboratory conditions and methodologies are fundamental in how they describe, predict and understand natural ‘stable’ phenomena. Their disciplines are typically supported by a knowledge base that incorporates mechanisms such as peer review and repeatability of findings to ensure the validity of scientific advances. This has reached a level of efficiency after thousands of years of debate and consensus-building.  And yet, any scientist, or expert in the field, who attempts to suggest that they’ve fully understood the phenomena and that knowledge is now complete are quickly exposed. 

In coaching, we’re still in the very early stages of articulating, identifying, understanding and appreciating which knowledge is more relevant, and directly contributes to, enabling our practice.  There is still more to learn, explore and be curious about. Setting arbitrary boundaries (or what scientists unfortunately referred to as ‘junk’) of what is considered to be the real knowledge base for coaching in this multidimensional and multifaceted world dominates coaching. This is why the good coach continues to choose to adopt an approach to ownership that is in-line with best practice for achieving real independence (similar to those traditional institutions that values independent knowledge creation). Furthermore, there are big implications for an approach that aims to respect the diversity of codes of practice of each practitioner, across a very diverse range of circumstances

Coaching is, by nature, dynamic from each moment to moment. Attempting to apply a traditional scientific approach that starts with isolating factors that can then be tested to get to some acceptable results, is ambitious. It creates a ‘superficial’ understanding of coaching, which is actually complex and messy. Instead a more open and inclusive approach is required that allows more opportunities to connect those words with (patterns of) behaviours that more accurately captures how each practitioner makes coaching work for them in their context. With time, and as recognizable patterns begin to emerge, it provides us with opportunities to start exploring, debating and building consensus as a community from a common framework. 


TAKING A MORE OPEN APPROACH TO PRACTITIONER RESEARCH, THIS HAS LED US TO OUR THIRD BOOK IN OUR SERIES:

Translating Coaching Codes of Practice - Leading the way into the personal knowledge bases of everyday practitioners. 

An edited volume from a series of blogs first published on the good coach. 

Over thirty established practitioners (both new and regular contributors) share their insights, experiences and patterns of how they are making a difference through their coaching approach. They may be working from within an organisation - as a manager, leader, internal coach (individual, group and/or team) - or from a portfolio of service contracts with professionals (individual, group and/or team) in various organisations. 

Together with our current practitioner-authors, it has led the good coach to its most important insight, even confirmation, to date, as we can show in this publication: the leading edge in practice comes from every day practitioners who draw on their experiences and skills, whilst adapting relevant theories where appropriate, that constitutes their personal knowledge base. 

Each coaching practitioner speaks from:

  • A diversity of contexts: They work in a different context and in different locations around the world. They have developed their credibility and reputation for delivering a professionally tailored learning space that meets the objectives of other stakeholders involved in their market. 
  • Their unique Practice: They share how they are leading the way in “making it work”. Their practices are typically hard for another individual to fully replicate because they have their own words infused with their own personal meaning to talk about what they are doing. 
  • Setting their standards of practice: They demonstrate how they are leading the way in being “fit-for-practice”. This involves, in various degrees, comfortably engaging in the words used by their clients, diagnosing the individual and the situation to appropriately engage at the client’s level of readiness, a willingness to provide alternative and independent perspectives, and to ask the right questions, all whilst continuously creating and maintaining the conditions for coaching. 
  • Connecting their knowledge to others: They readily draw from their personal knowledge base that connects their living experiences with, and where appropriate, to a broad array of currently available knowledge from the wider context. The breadth of their personal knowledge base is also compelling because it suggests that the current resources for finding relevant coaching knowledge is still too simple for the realities which practitioners operate in. 

LEADING THE PROCESS OF FORMING PRACTITIONER KNOWLEDGE. EVOLVING THE BENEFITS OF SELF-REPORTING TO SELF, COMMUNITY AND THE MARKET THROUGH BLOGS.

We continue to be interested in finding those patterns that may eventually lead to similarities from the realities of the diverse practice that already exist. We’re not interested in rushing to ‘a final solution’. We’re still in those early stages of learning and appreciating the unique differences between each other’s practice that’s covered sweepingly under this broad term ‘coaching’. The level of detail required to begin reaching consensus particularly around definitions amongst a small group, let alone the 1 percent of coaching practitioners the good coach is looking to engage with, makes this a long-term project. 

All the practitioners that choose to engage with the good coach are contracting to engage in a meaningful and rigorous process that helps them to continue to make sense of how they practice as they write up and report on it through the medium of a blog/blog-article. 

The idea of Blog remains essential as a form of personal written expression; to talk about their practice, to increasingly want to write about their practice in the wider context of the field, and other coaching practice as they know it.

The various parts of Practice can be reported in different ways,

  • Key events that have been important experiences that have influenced how they apply their coaching approach, 
  • Immediate situations or challenges they are facing in their current assignments, 
  • Reviewing past situations in order to improve their current and future practice, 
  • Patterns of behaviours as a result of an accumulation of learning experiences over a period of time (a month, six months, a year, even a life time). 

Importantly, it is how they describe these events-patterns through their use of ‘I’.  Each practitioner-author has a different starting point as they engage in their reporting yet what is consistent, and becomes apparent for all, is acknowledging who the real audience is for their piece. 

Themselves!

Writing has important advantages. For example it creates a mechanism of expression that has proven to be have important advantages for sharing; as well as an important basis for proposing and agreeing meaning for others; and to begin engaging in broader conversations that could eventually lead to building consensus. 
This process of writing is also evolving in the material our community is collecting:  

  • The initial focus: Our authors value practitioner knowledge as a means of progressing their understanding and use of coaching. That is why the first draft is for the author. 
  • The second draft is for the good coach community: Here, our central, core group of blogatorial members help to represent the good coach community and provide important editorial (blogitorial) support
  • The published version, through the good coach web site distribution, is for the much wider audiences of readers: Feedback from wider audiences again illustrates the wide range of interests in the wider community for what catches their attention. 

We have also directly received positive feedbacks from the practitioners themselves that the benefits of writing about their practice has helped them to deepen their awareness, confidence and reflection around their client work. A greater authority over their practice. A usable resource that becomes part of their portfolio and branding in client development, and most importantly it has added to their development as a practitioner. 

Moreover, it’s through the process of writing that we begin to learn more about the contexts in which coaching takes place, which is more important than the content itself. For eventually, context will be what allows practitioners to more openly compare their practices with others. the good coach encourages practitioner-authors to write about their practice and asks them to more thoroughly consider, explain and ground how their practice is formed from their experiences (some might even call this coaching coaches). And importantly, it incorporates the discipline of providing definitions, as well as revealing all those subtle and significant reciprocating behaviours that are as much as part of the conversation as the words spoken themselves. 


DEFINITE PATTERNS IN THE MATERIAL OUR AUTHORS PRODUCE ABOUT THE FIELD OF COACHING OVERALL: SUMMARIZED IN FOUR THEMES AND 8 KEY TRENDS

Curating this ‘growing’ collection of writings straight from the front lines and those published through the good coach that affords us to share some key trends from applying the good coach approach.

Book 2 referred to ‘Insights from the Leading Edges of Everyday Practitioners’. We consider there is a growing confidence in the way that Coaching practitioners are finding more coherence in their Practices. Albeit while still covering a very broad range of circumstances.

Book 3 refers to ‘Leading the way into the personal knowledge bases of everyday practitioners’. We consider the continued learning, collected from a range of materials, starts with coaching practitioners being the first to acknowledge that this is part of their Practice (and review of their ‘fitness-to-practice’). How they are making the most of their experiences in Coaching, as well as progress in establishing the territory where coaching can contribute.

We have grouped the current material into four themes:

  1. Leading Edge: Influences on Practitioner's Learning and Development
    Part 1 brings together material broadly around the subject of how Practitioners live on their own edges of continually making sense of their coaching circumstances – continually learning and developing their Practice.
  2. Cutting Edge: Investigating patterns from Practitioner Experiences
    Part 2 focuses more on the challenges of the external conditions that have to be appreciated, and how Practitioners have to marshall their experience of these immediate circumstances.
  3. Opportunities at the Competitive edge: Branding, professional development, societal needs
    Part 3 talks about how Practitioners also work to link what they are doing to a wider context.
  4. What's next: Practitioner research
    Finally, Part 4 is a collection of material where Practitioners are thinking forwards, both for themselves, as well as wider ways of connecting, researching further how to make the most of what they bring.

And we share the 8 key trends that has emerged from evolving the good coach process:

  1. Emphasis on actual practice descriptions. There is a trend towards coaching practitioners using individual examples and cases as representative of their overall approach to practice, and even the shape and identity of their practice.
  2. Detail about the actual context in a specific case as well as the wider field, with an acceptable level of disclosure to the extent that the descriptions are personal rather than over generalized.
  3. Diversity factor of how authors are increasingly unashamed in expressing their own focus rather than feeling they must conform to some approved focus in how they talk about their practice.
  4. Extraordinary diversity of material. No two coaches write about the same things because of the lens they are looking through, however, some themes are beginning to show themselves.
  5. Trend towards writing a series on their practice. They are seeing the personal benefit that far exceeds the simple marketing benefit.
  6. Coaching in an organisational context offers more support, and gets to a level of coherence that practitioners are interested in, due to the very nature of an organisation’s focus on process and output which makes process and output easier to talk about (compared to coaching individuals on a wider basis).
  7. Length. Practitioners are writing longer pieces because they are beginning to look at their practice, their practice in comparison with others, and giving more attention to some of the wider field. 
  8. References are used as a more overt inclusion of connection to the wider field that’s typically used in the traditional sense of reference to available publications in which knowledge basis is formed and some measurement of knowledge formation is possible i.e. by the no. of references to any material across the field.

Importantly, this informs us that there is a growing awareness and deepening of confidence about how much there is still to do in making the most of each coaching practice.


WHERE NEXT:

the good coach aims to continue developing the concept of practitioner research and make it a more accessible approach for everyday practitioners. Broadly speaking the three areas we want to carry on investigating are: 

  • The real researchers are the practitioners, themselves. The emphasis being on the practitioners themselves learning to report on their own research - their real-life experiences of applying their coaching approach in their own words - using best practices of reporting from traditional institutions where more formal research is typically carried out. Sharing those experiences through a blog or blog-article emphasizes the expression of a personal view that also consider the audience. It enables practitioners to feel freer to talk about their personal experiences from their practice, and it gives them the opportunity to write about how they view what they are doing with some depth and understanding. 
  • Practitioner research is about exploring the wide range of factors, data, and contexts that better represents the complex reality that each individual lives and works in. It’s moving out of the laboratories where isolating factors in stable and simplified conditions dominates. It’s all about having the confidence and capacity to describe, predict and understand how each practitioner’s personality has learnt to connect with others, particularly those individuals who they work better with, in their situation and context to do good coaching. 
  • Validity of practice can thus be measured through those behavioural patterns. They can typically be predicted once the practitioner is aware of how and why they are using them (cause-effect) and shown to produce fairly similar results when those same behaviours are applied across a range of contexts and individuals. Writing about practitioner experiences and observing where similar behavioural patterns emerge across them is where practitioner research really begins to inform and give shape to a practitioner’s practice, and how it compares with another coaching practitioner’s practice and the wider field of practice. 

Each practitioner continues to build their personal knowledge base, and in parallel contributes to building up a quality body of practitioner knowledge that truly represents the diversity of unique practices and leading edges of everyday practitioners. This is where we continue to believe the real knowledge lives. We just have to continue finding ways to get to it that eventually becomes reproducible by others.


Finally, if you would like to order your copy of any of the books currently available in the TRANSLATING Coaching Codes of Practice series, just click here, and purchase at our online print-on-demand, self-publishing and distribution platform Lulu.com. Or, if you are ready to share how your practice works contact us now.