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.