Lean manufacturing has been an attribute of progressive production systems for many years. It was initiated as part of Toyota’s manufacturing process to eliminate waste and ultimately boost productivity and reduce costs. In a recent edition of the Harvard Business Journal, contributor Steve Blank, discussed the use of lean techniques in entrepreneurial start ups. Again within this context of lean, the argument is made that there are quicker more efficient ways of navigating the start up process that can lead to better outputs and ultimately speedier success.
To use the term Lean Coaching might almost sounds like an oxymoron to many. There might be fears of expediting the process, being insensitive to people’s needs and just being more concerned about a result rather than the people involved. However these thoughts stem from a lack of understanding as to what the concept of lean truly means and for that matter, coaching.
Lean Coaching considers the whole spectrum of the coaching engagement. It’s not just the sessions where coach and client converse; it’s also about the activities in between that emerge from these sessions. But more importantly it has to do with the agreement between coach and client as to how best to affect a solution. Coaching is often driven by the supposed “tried and tested” processes of so many sessions over a period of time. Lean Coaching is solution driven and involves helping the client achieve a solution in an efficient manner, with consideration to both costs and time.
In order to be effective in this method, coaches need to be the following:
1. Solution Oriented – start with the end in mind and get to challenge quickly
2. Skills Mastery – become masterly proficient at using coaching skills and tools
3. Multi Facet Communication – utilize all forms of communicate (text, e-mail, phone, etc) to build and maintain momentum
4. Measure Success – be able to demonstrate achievement
This may appear mechanical but don’t forget this is about the client which is at the core of what coaching is all about. It offers an effective way of helping clients realize solutions in an efficient manner; what client’s wouldn’t want this?