3D Ideas 849: Simple (again)

Claire writes: “Alex sent me this great quote from Steve Jobs the other day: ‘Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.’”

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3D Ideas 848: 90 Degrees

Claire writes: “Last week included a talk at the UK Conference of the International Coaching Federation as well as our annual Transforming Conversations open course.  I think that I learned as much as the delegates!

The live coaching demo was done standing up.  I always do that because everyone in the room can see, and also we know that people think faster when standing.  The nature of the stage meant that we were standing at 90 degrees to each other (think two adjacent sides of a square).  As she was talking and thinking, she was facing forward. I stood next to her watching her create some great ideas. And I only spoke when she turned to look at me.  That clear invitation to me as the facilitator of her thinking to only speak when she invited me in by looking at me meant that it was easy to wait and not interrupt her thinking.

It worked on Tuesday, so we shared it on Wednesday!  It was so effective, that Alex and I watched as someone accompanied a thinker.  The coach’s face suggested full attention and no question forming. He was simply noticing and bearing witness.  And then the thinker pointed to the floor as they moved to a new and useful insight. The coach turned and started to look at the same place on the floor.  Now there was 100 degrees between them and they were looking in the same direction. The coach scratched his chin and we watched as he got sucked into the stuff.  The edginess was gone! I walked up behind him and silently tapped his arm to encourage him to move back to a side on position. He stopped scratching his chin and the edginess was back!  Time and again over the last 48 hours we saw the value of that 90 degree position which allows us to be with someone and shifts from the kind of position where we are talking to someone and end up being seduced by the story. This is probably easier when we are standing up than sitting down.  Try it!”

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3D Ideas 847: Reverse Coaching?

Claire writes: “I have just read an interesting article on reverse mentoring.  Alex, one of our systemic team coaches, says he has seen it work well.  For example with young graduate recruits mentoring senior leaders on their use of tech.

What about reverse coaching, I wonder? My current learning is about power and partnership. Coaching only works when there is enough capacity between the two people in the conversation to work in partnership. We teach a lot about keeping the responsibility in the middle by co-creating the conversation. Interestingly, even when people are great at not taking the responsibility in a conversation, it’s another lesson altogether to notice when the thinker gives it to you. Unless you give it back and return to co-creating you will still be holding it. Which puts the power out of balance.

We notice that this shared responsibility and co-creation can work even when there is a differential in role power when the coach, or the facilitator of the conversation, pays attention to make sure they aren’t doing all the work.  Even when they are the line manager.

So why not reverse coaching? We’d be interested to hear your thoughts?

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3D Ideas 846: Mentoring


Claire writes: “A useful conversation with someone this morning led to them asking me to work with them in a hybrid set of roles.  Although the purist definition is that in coaching you never offer in any advice, we have been learning some interesting stuff in these hybrid conversations.

Aaron Albury says that coaching is holding up a mirror while mentoring is holding up a map. I’d say that mentoring is offering to hold up a map, if that’s useful!

In listening to lots of 1-1 conversations every week, I notice a couple things.

  1. Trying to avoid saying ‘have you thought about’ leads to complex questions which sort of have the answer in them and slow things down
  2. Saying ‘have you thought about?’ with more than a few words risks the thinker feeling flooded with solutions that they may well have thought about already

More and more I am saying ‘would it be useful for me to (briefly!) think out loud?’.  It works because I can scope a breadth of what I am thinking about without going into detail.  It feels less judging. And they can pick up on words or ideas that resonate. Or when I was demonstrating it in a group where someone ran coach training, I said ‘would it be useful for me to say what we do?’  He said yes, so I shared it in a sentence. There was silence. And it gave him a breakthrough – he said ‘Got it! I know what I’ll do. It’s [something totally different from what I said and it came from him usefully processing what he heard]’..

And when we are mentoring someone to support them to grow, it may be useful to give them the inside track on how we make decisions.”

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3D Ideas 845: Freezing

Claire writes: “I will always remember running a course on how to prepare for an interview when my co-facilitator shared their worst experience with the group. ‘The interviewer’s first question was: Why have you applied for the job?… and I froze’.

Good preparation can reduce the likelihood of freezing in interviews. Many conversations, however, can’t be prepared for and it’s common for people to get a version of ‘what on earth do I say now?’ or even brain freeze. When we are in conversation with someone else and encouraging them to think, our freezing can stop them thinking because they still experience what we think we are hiding!

In the improv pilot day at the end of last year, we all experienced the external version of freezing. It was terrifying and it was funny, and the work we did together in a space of trust enabled us to overcome some of the fear that makes a momentary freeze into something that disables us.

Presence and holding space well is a skill that’s important in leadership, coaching, presenting, and training as well as in theatre. I have travelled with a question for several years about whether you can teach this. And finally we tried it out with improv and it seems you can! Join me and Stuart Reid on Friday 11th October in Central London if you think that some attention to presence will support the work you do.”

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3D Ideas 844: Shopping

Clare T and Ruth are offering low cost coaching to young people who are at transition points. They work from the office, on the phone and online. If you know young people who would value this, email info@3dcoaching.com to find out more.

Clare writes: ‘It’s that time of year when 17 year olds trek off to massive exhibition halls to do “university shopping”. Ahead of such a trip, my son and I had a conversation. I was keen to understand what he wanted to be different at the end of his time at the exhibition, what would he be focusing on? He really hadn’t given it much thought and jokingly admitted he might end up coming home clearer about which Uni offered the best free pens and not much else.

Covey said “Begin with the end in mind… begin each task, project with a clear vision of your desired direction or destination”. Being clear at the outset of an exhibition, or meeting, or conversation what the desired outcome needs to be and what we will see to know that’s happened will ensure it is time well spent.

My son came home more focused, excited and energized to learn more about his possible course options and what to do next and as it happens – penless!’

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3D Ideas 843: The Story I’m Making Up

Arcaion / Pixabay

Claire writes: “What a lot of data flies around organisations

  • anecdotal data – what I tell you about someone else which we pretend originally comes from observable data and may not
  • self reported data – what I tell you about myself
  • imagined data – or as Brene Brown says ‘the story I’m making up about this is’
  • real observable data – what was actually seen

Whether we are simply having a conversation, or are interviewing or coaching, we notice how useful it is to be honest about what kind of data we are discussing. ‘What did you see?‘ is a much better question than ‘what do they think?‘ which leads us to assumptions and stories and more…”

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3D Ideas 842: Half a Centimetre

We are delighted to share that Alexandru Popa has joined the 3D team to deliver systemic board and team development.  At the same time, Clare Townsend and Ruth Bennett will be developing some events for young people at decision points as well as offering them 1-1 coaching.  The 3D Team work will enable us to offer 3D Youth work at low cost. Call the office if you want to talk with Alex, Clare or Ruth.

newsong / Pixabay

Claire writes: ‘There is nothing new under the sun. And everything we learn and share through our work are things some people know intuitively and use sometimes. Yet naming them gives us the opportunity to integrate them more fully into the things we do.

Moving, we know, can both speed up our thinking and help move us from being stuck. Nietzsche said ‘Only those thoughts that come by walking have any value.’ In coaching it’s especially useful because we are more able to notice when our companion is having new insights. A recent tweeter tried it out: @3dclaire might appreciate knowing that, this morning, I walked around Pimlico for 40 minutes, half a centimetre behind someone. It worked a treat. #simplenoteasy’

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3D Ideas 841: Everything is Disposable

RitaE / Pixabay

Claire writes: “This week in Transforming Conversations we will be exploring the value of changing the medium to have better conversations. Instead of talking through a situation, people will draw it and their colleague will simply notice what they see. I always tell delegates that 80% of what they will notice is useless and 20% is useful. And the the things we notice – without judgement – often transform… when we offer lightly.

Exactly the same learning came when we were learning about presence with Stuart Reid. We spent a whole day doing theatre improvisation. There was so much deep learning (and laughter) that he will be running it again (11th October 2019 in Central London only 12 spaces). In coaching we offer questions. In improv we simply make an offer. And one of the principles of improv is that everything is disposable. 80% goes nowhere. The skill, of course, is to notice quickly and work out what to do next!”

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3D Ideas 840: Tennis Ball Machine

Claire writes: “Tennis ball machines, I have seen in films, can serve lots of balls as you practice your return.  

Questions asked at the same pace as a tennis ball machine are quite overwhelming. We often see one question after another launched at the person thinking. The first thing it does is stop them thinking at all.

Great questions have a long life and may need to do their great work before the next question comes along. Slow down.  Say less. And wait until they ask for the next question, with their eyes or their body.”

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