Here are some of the conversations and messages I am currently carrying in our agile and tech communities (https://coaching.benextcompany.com).
Presupposition on the quality of the context
Whether they are brand new in the role of product owner or scrummaster, or older, I regularly hear in people’s mouths: banks are not sexy as an environment, the media I like much more. This is totally unfounded. It is not the company’s material that will give you its flavor. Of course you can decide according to your convictions not to support an oil company, a shipowner, which I understand and understand very well, but this is not the subject I am raising here. We can imagine that large structures, often banking or insurance, are less interesting than startups, or the media, etc. The reality I know denies that we can pre-define this in advance. In a large entity, one department will be exciting, the other will not. The same department could be exciting at that time, and will not be the following year. This may seem exciting from a distance (working for a major French media company) and can be a disappointment (no space, no ability to have an impact, no creativity, etc.). I have no idea where you’re going to fall. I’m not defending either one of them. I’m trying to make that clear.
Temporality of coaching has nothing to do with cause and effect
The biggest shock that the newcomer to the world of organizational coaching takes is the change in time. In our country, coach seeds are not always prepared for this. There is no longer really a cause and effect, there is a set of dynamics that interact with each other in one way or another, by mirror effect, by rebound, by echo, etc. There are big gaps, and suddenly ruptures, tears, or nothing, or breaks. But this is not dictated by any dynamics, but more by vibrations that at some point (or never) make the positions and postures shake. For some of our coach seeds, and more broadly for coaches, it is a pain. It is a difficult role, ultimately solitary enough and without enough tangible recognition. We do not find as in personal development coaching in a setting where a request is expressed (sometimes clearly) and even better, where coaching is desired. You have to be prepared for that.
They suddenly want to leave, because their actions do not seem to have any effect. I don’t know, but the harshness of the task often throws them out too quickly. You have to be patient. The difficulty is not to be too patient. Deciding at the last minute who is responsible remains a good adage. And you have to learn to live in this no man’s land (I’m not talking about people who abuse systems to vegetate in a corner).
Who is the customer?
It’s very unclear in organizational coaching. There is no framework like in a personal development coaching, neither such a clear request nor such a strong desire. And I don’t believe – to date – that this can be the case, the real customer being the organization to me. His request goes through a person who applies his filter. Or even several people, the applicant, the payer (the real payer is the company). What the organization asks for, what the organization wants, seems to me to be the real question. But it is a dangerous game, by giving this request to a being who does not exist I open the door to the possibility of making many false interpretations. To attach our convictions and allow ourselves not to listen to people. But people carry with them a layer of politics and habits that must also be filtered. We’re in trouble on all sides. Nevertheless, it seems to me that taking a step back and making the organization the real client gives space and leads to more relevant questions. And isn’t that the role of confrontation to question in a relevant way?
And then agile? Who cares, right? Currently the difficulty is that agile is never the target and too often it becomes the target. And perhaps more importantly: the pace of reflection and the evolution of observations on companies, this pace seems more dynamic to me than that of companies’ appropriation of these new disciplines, know-how and know-how. Hence the great feeling of going in circles in the so-called agile community. But perhaps we are entering a period of mass collapse of companies that have failed to reform themselves. I hope so. I am not a collapsologist at all, this collapse would be good news (even if unfortunately it would perhaps lead to a serious social breakdown).