Origins of the Coaching from a Systems Perspective Course
In 2009, a group of eight professionals, all members of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), began meeting to reflect on our practice, advance our learning edge, and see what we could offer to the world of coaching. With varied backgrounds, all of us had significant experience in coaching, leadership development, and organizational development and change consulting. The Coaching from a Systems Perspective course was among the results of this collaboration.
Our team, first row in photo: Jeff Clanon*, Jeffrey McIntyre, Steve Ober, Diane Hetherington, Carol Mase. Second row: Nancy Miriam Hawley*, Richard Karash, Heidi Sparkes Guber. (* indicates active faculty)
We began by focusing on a fundamental question: “In your development as a professional coach, what learning experiences have had the most impact on your coaching practice?” In an extraordinary two-day face-to-face meeting, we documented and shared our responses to that question and surfaced a striking insight. Each of us, in varying ways, had integrated the notion of a systems perspective into our coaching practices. From this realization grew the idea that we had an opportunity to add value to coaching as a professional discipline.
We began creating a course that incorporates the concepts, tools, and methods we had each been using to help our clients see and understand the internal, relational, and external systems influencing patterns of performance. Targeting both professional coaches and senior managers who practice coaching in their leadership repertoire, we experimented with flow and content by delivering the course to ourselves.
Our next step was to pilot the program for other coaches in Boston, Massachusetts, in March 2010. Since then, we have delivered the course in Tokyo, Budapest, London, and Bangalore, along with additional deliveries in major US cities. The power and impact of the course—literally around the world—has exceeded our highest aspirations.
Participants report that the program content and practice segments have enhanced their professional capacities. Participants also enjoy the expansion of their personal network resulting from the shared experience, practice, and reflection. Many course graduates go on to become members of the SoL Global Coaching Community as a way to continue their learning and sharing.