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Technology in Coaching – Part 1

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

By CoachConnector CTO, Andrew Barber

I was recently asked to list the current features and functionality of the CoachConnector platform, and as any good techie would, I dutifully obliged with a shopping list filled with acronyms and impressive sounding system features that made me glow with pride.

“But what does that actually all mean” came the reply, “there are dozens of these platforms springing up and they all claim to have super sonic, warp drive capability with beaming technology to CE 147 standard – but how does that help me as a coach”?

“Well” I replied “it allows you to digitize your process flows, streamline your data in real time and manage everything from one secure platform”. Again feeling proud of myself, I began nibbling at a custard cream.

“Huh”? More unsatisfied than a dog fed salad while the cat chewed prime fillet, the coach leaned forward across the desk, his face completely blank, “yes, but what does that actually all mean”?

The coach was of course correct in everything they said – as a professional rooted in technology, I am aware that sometimes there is a disconnect between the end user and those that develop the platforms they use.

When starting a new project in any sector, the first thing I do is spend a few months chatting with those in the industry – find out their areas of pain, the things they would like to be able to do with a new computer system and the things that don’t really matter. I also look at the way things are currently done and judge how likely it is that people will “Adopt” anything new.

We then design custom features (functionality designed specifically around an actual need) and release them into the platform. In almost 30 years of being involved with technology, I have taken a whistle stop tour of numerous different industries – technology and design is a little unique in that way, in that the designer (system architect) needs to be an expert in their own field while being able to understand the market in which they are launching a new platform.

Coaching is a wonderful smorgasbord of opinion, method and teaching. As an outsider gazing in, I had to learn quickly the difference between coaching, training and mentoring as well as the distinction between the myriad of different types of coach. What is lean coaching, what is meant by taking an holistic approach, what does a life coach do and how can an executive coach help my business?

In the end, my job is to provide a solution to a problem in such a way as to add value to the procedures, principles and business of those using any “tools” I have designed. In doing so I must consider why the user would adopt a new way of running their business, make sure that I provide value and above all else, contribute something that is relevant and fit for purpose.

To achieve this, a platform can never be static and design is never one way. If you adopt modern thinking around the way we now model a user interface and roll it out across an entire system, what we learn is that software needs to constantly evolve so to serve those who use it – and the only way to achieve this is to engage with and care about your user base.

So over the coming weeks I would like to try to answer the question of “what does that actually all mean”. Why should a coach stop doing things the way they have always previously done them and start using something new? What are all those fancy labels on the tin and how do they actually equate to improving a coaching practice?

I will begin next week from the very beginning – and look at user adoption and the way that markets tend to change and evolve in line with technology. Why should you stop doing things in a way that has always worked in the past, just because somebody tells you it will be good for your business?

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