CAST 2007: Esther Derby Keynote

Esther Derby gave the afternoon keynote on Monday.  Her presentation was on peer coaching - how do you bring back stuff you learn at a conference to your day job.  The keynote was basically things to think about when you attempt to introduce change into an organization.

There are many reasons to change: introduce a new way (to fail :-)), improve things, curiosity, to save something we value.  But all change involves loss and turmoil.  There are some approaches that may be more effective:

  • Work by attraction rather than force
  • Do it - ask for forgiveness rather than permission
  • Let people know what's in it for them
  • Plant a seed and be a sprinkler rather than a fire hose

Esther mentioned 5 questions that we should ask ourselves before inflicting coaching on people.  Unfortunately, I didn't write them down in my notes.  A few I remember:

  • Is this person ready for coaching?
  • Is this person ready for coaching from me?
  • Am I ready to fail and not blame?

More thoughts on coaching:  Let people fail but catch them before they go too far down the wrong path.  Ask questions.  Frame situations.  Pair - sometimes it won't be apparent who is coaching who.  Debrief.  Some questions:

  • What stands out?
  • What was challenging?
  • What went smoothly?
  • What insights did you have?
  • What was puzzling?
  • Can you see yourself using what you're advocating?
  • What would make me a better coach?

Other things to do and not do:

  • Make a Powerpoint presentation
  • Don't inflict help if folks don't want it or aren't ready
  • Give them an overview and let them come to you if they want details.
  • Check understanding by having them explain it back to you.
  • Realize nodding may not equal understanding.
  • Cut your losses when you realize what you're advocating isn't working.