Information Shines a Light

Coaching is a process of conversations that help people leverage their own potential and unpack all the information they can use to meet a challenge. The process helps them: articulate a clear goal, identify options for action, and follow through to an improved outcome.

IDEO, a Palo Alto-based industrial design firm known for its trademarked “deep dive” brainstorming process, features a short video on its website called Sam and Dave Save the World. “Sam and Dave Save the World”. The video shows how differently Sam and Dave respond to climate change—basically how differently they react to their electric bills. The information they receive and how it’s expressed determine that difference. I saw parallels to coaching in the video’s message.

Sam’s electric bill presents his usage and the whopping amount he owes. Same reacts by simply turning down the thermostat and continues to turn it down with each successive over-the-top bill. Dave’s bill shows his usage and impressive balance due, but it also informs him of the impact of using energy efficient bulbs, insulating his roof, and downsizing in other ways. His bill clearly conveys how those actions will translate to cost savings. Dave responds by taking initiative and proactively changing his behavior.

Sam attacks the symptoms. Dave searches for root causes…and their solutions. Information is the key influence to the choices they make. Same reduces his bill but endures unnecessary quality of life sacrifice. He and his family are freezing to their bones. Dave looks at a bigger picture of information, considers a wide variety of options, takes proactive steps to change his behavior in the face of a challenge and enjoys lower bills without unpleasant compromises to his family’s lifestyle.

A coach establishes a conversational framework that enables the coachee to make a big-picture assessment of the current situation and find opportunities for improvement. The coaching process encourages a solutions-based response like Dave’s. The situation may not be about the utility bill, but the process is energetic and the rewards can be electric.

* The Deep Dive is now a trademark of Deloitte Consulting.

Has having more information ever enabled you to make a better decision or set a clearer course? How did you come by that information?