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This is the first issue of the CCG Newsletter. It is designed to provide practical insights in the fields of coaching, visioning processes beyond the typical organizational approach, and various issues surrounding global leadership.

In this first issue, we will explore some of the basic issues of coaching, such as the bottom line of coaching and emergent visioning processes.

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Thanks for giving this first issue, a "look-see".

Herb Stevenson
Cleveland Consulting Group, Inc.

Bottom Line of Coaching....

As a relatively new, and self organizing industry seeking to establish uniform standards, the issue most often requested by clients is what is coaching and why do it. Distinct from other forms of training, coaching focuses on the method of learning. Under a coaching paradigm, it is believed that "the more an individual is involved in identifying problems, in working out and applying solutions for them and in reviewing the results, the more complete and the more long-lasting the learning is. This form of self learning tends to bring about learning with a deeper understanding than learning that is taught."1. To give this more perspective, "coaching is very different than teaching or instructing. It is best described as facilitating. The coach encourages the learner to learn for him/herself...As well as acquiring new job competencies, the learner gradually develops new and more effective learning skills. He/she becomes a proactive learner, capable of learning from almost any experience encountered."2(Redshaw, 2000, p. 107).

Coaching is most effectively employed when it is used to do one or more of the following:

  • Support Change - support individual and organizational change performance, possibly by increasing congruence with the mission;
  • Provide Transformation & Transition - provide adequate support to enable personal transformation and career role transition;
  • Develop Future Leaders - support the development of future leaders for the organization via enhanced ability for strategic thinking, providing vision and direction, accelerating change, intellectual honesty, integrity motivating and energizing people, teamwork, and partnering, influencing, delivering results, valuing all people, and/or developing people.
  • Address Specific Challenges - provide an adequate container to address a specific problem area or challenge; and
  • Facilitate Culture - support and facilitate the creation of an organizational culture that values learning, creativity, and continuous improvement.

What's the Difference

Business coaching includes principles from sports coaching such as teamwork, personal excellence, and "going for the goal." But unlike sports coaching, business coaching is not about competition or based on win/lose. A business coach focuses on helping an individual "learn what it takes" for him or her to improve existing capabilities, set meaningful goals, and be accountable for his or her results. A coach helps an individual understand and eliminate barriers to more effective performance.

Further Clarification

Besides the confusion around coaching as a sports metaphor, coaching is often confused with mentoring, counseling/therapy, and consulting. The differences are discussed below:

  • Mentoring - A mentor works closely with an individual to help develop the skills, knowledge, and relationships needed to perform better in the current position and to advance his or her career. A mentor is usually at a more senior level in an organization and has the professional and personal competencies to pass on organizational culture, norms, and traditions through skill and example. The mentor shares personal experiences through dialog, and often gives advice.
  • Counseling or Therapy - Counselors and therapists focus on an individual's psychological well-being and may spend time analyzing  the past. In contrast, coaches concentrate on personal and organizational success, how well the individual is functioning within the organization, and is future focused.
  • Consulting - A consultant gives expert advice and is hired for specific technical expertise.

What Coaches Do!?

Coaches help individuals set and achieve desired goals. Coaches utilize questions and assessment tools to help individuals become more effective. For example, initial interviews could be used to create a baseline for why coaching is being requested. Often the coach completes a "take-in" interview and observes the client in action for a day or two to better grasp the dynamics within the organization. Beyond the initial interview, assessment tools could use to more specifically pinpoint an application for the client, such as leadership skills, emotional intelligence, personality types, that may or may not involve a prior completed 360 degree feedback. Through the insight gained from assessment tools and observations by the coach, individuals become more self-aware of their strengths and barriers, and develop strategies and plans to reach their goals. Figure 1 illustrates these distinctions:

Figure 1






Driving Thought

I know how. Do it my way

My Experience is

I am an expert. That is what you are paying me to tell you.

How can I support your learning?

Public Statement

"Do it this way"

"This is how I would do it"

"This is how to do it."

"This is how you should do it."

"What have you tried? How has it served/disserved you? What else is possible?"

Public Action

Required Compliance

Guidance & Advice

Direction, Method, Technique, & Information

Explore, experiment, and learn new ways of working, thinking and being, personally and professionally.

Measuring Success

Because the industry is relatively new and has not been uniformly refined, the metrics for measuring success have not been fully developed. Some firms have developed their own metrics, but I question whether any instrument has been adequately validated and normed through defined populations. Meanwhile, through personal comparisons of experiences before and after coaching, most people establish a clear value-added for coaching. For example, some coaches have adapted Robert Brinkerhoff's The Success Case Method: Find Out Quickly What's Working and What's Not to create a case method approach, somewhat action-research method, to determine the success of the coaching. Clearly, as the field begins to more formally develop, many more methods of measuring and determining success will be available.

Meanwhile, here are a few examples of success stories as reported from various business sources:

  • As reported in Fortune Magazine, "managers described an average return of ...about six times what the coaching had cost their companies."
  • A study by MetrixGlobal LLC found that coaching produced a 529% return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business.
  • An article in Public Personnel Management (Winter 97, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p. 461, International Personnel Management Association) reported training alone increased productivity by 22.4% while training plus coaching increased productivity by 88%.
  • Research on executive coaching effectiveness,  reported in the Manchester Review (2001, Vol. 6, No. 1) showed that companies that invested in executive coaching received an average 500%+ return on investment.
  • In 2003, the Austin Business Journal reported that 40% of Fortune 500 companies now use professional coaching services.
  • In February, 2004, it was reported in the Washington Post that a company utilizing coaching gained $3.3 million in 2003 which resulted in a 689% return on the company's investment.

To be continued...

In the next issue, we will continue the discussion of coaching by discussing establishing a coaching agreement, dealing with ethical issues, and looking at various types of coaching-life coaching, executive coaching, etc.

1Redshaw, B., (2000). Do we really understand coaching? How can we make it work better? Industrial and Commercial training, 32 (3), 106.

2Redshaw, B., (2000). Do we really understand coaching? How can we make it work better? Industrial and Commercial training, 32 (3), 107.

The Visioning Process....

Vision Statement

A vision is often confused with a mission statement or a statement of organizational purpose. Although similar to mission statements and statements of organizational purpose, a vision statement is a shared image or picture that represents what will occur if the organization is successful. It is worded in the present tense so that it seems as if is happening in the moment. It can describe the emotional benefits of achieving the vision. More often, however,  the emotional benefits are implied as the vision tends to create different emotional responses for each individual.

Moreover, the vision statement is the primary force for meaning- making throughout the organization. It creates a common understanding of what distinguishes the organization from other organizations. It creates a special identity (as compared to other organizations). This special identity taps into the power of unified diversity. More specifically, at the core of every individual within the organization will be a shared  or common understanding that may not be expressed in words beyond the vision statement itself. However, the meaning of the vision statement touches parts of the person that is unique to them individually and yet binds them organically to everyone else. In many ways, it is the creation of a community comprised of many individuals held together by common meaning.

The Natural Laws of Organizations

To more fully understand the visioning process, it may help to briefly examine the natural laws of organizations as defined by Lawrence Ackerman in the book, Identity Is Destiny: Leadership and the Roots of Value Creation. According to the eight natural laws of organizations, the individual and collective identity of an organization determines whether or not it will be successful, or for that matter, whether or not it will even exist. These laws are described below:

Law of Being:

Any organization composed of one or more human beings is alive in its own right, exhibiting distinct physical, mental, and emotional capacities that derive from, but transcend, the individuals who make up that organization over time.

Law of Individuality:

An organization's human capacities invariably fuse into a discernible identity that makes that organization unique.

Law of Constancy:

Identity is fixed, transcending time and place, while its manifestations are constantly changing.

Law of Will:

Every organization is compelled by the need to create value in accordance with its identity.

Law of Possibility:

Identity foreshadows potential.

Law of Relationship:

Organizations are inherently relational, and those relationships are only as strong as the natural alignment between the identities of the participants.

Law of Comprehension:

The individual capacities of an organization are only as valuable as the perceived value of the whole of that organization.

Law of Cycle:

Identity governs value, which produceswealth, which fuels identity.


Traits of a Vision

Beyond the natural laws of organizations, there are several traits that are common to vision statements. For example, the shorter the vision statement, the better. For example, Continental Airlines' combined vision and mission statement is "Work Hard, Fly Right"

Alternatively, symbolic representation of the vision can be very powerful if it captures the meaning. For example, in native American traditional lore, one of the most powerful visions is the White Buffalo Calf Woman. It is an image of transformation that has been shared amongst all tribes and nations. However, the core story, or the essence of the meaning of the image, is maintained  regardless of who tells it, yet it is totally unique as told by each individual.

Fundamental Principles of Vision Questing

Consistent with the above description from Native American approaches to visioning, the following fourteen principles were developed as part of research I did on visioning during my thesis.

Fourteen Fundamental Principles of Vision Questing

The fourteen fundamental principles below are Zen-like in their presentation in that they may seem enigmatic and filled with paradoxical riddles, but when assessed and practiced as a whole, the principles enable a quality of insight into self and other that is more than the sum of its parts. This broader and deeper sense of understanding begins the process of reawakening an awareness of relational perception that has been overshadowed by conventional analytic problem solving.

Principle One:

Visioning is a personal process that is begun in isolation; however, it is fundamentally conversational and social.

Implicit to this principle is that we are never truly alone. Even in isolation, we are accompanied by internal though­ts and compelling pictures of one's self. These thoughts and pictures lose their power to dictate how to see the world, however, when they are extracted from the social and cultural environments that initially gave them their authoritative meanings. Still, the individual's self-removal from the external environment is temporary; the intention is to return, to make the reverse transition that brings him or her once more into relatedness, but with deeper insights and new conceptions of possibilities. In corporate organizations, this transition could show itself as a shift from dictates to curiosity, from argumentative discussions to open dialogues.

Principle Two: 

Even though it may seem that nothing is happening at the time, the experience itself changes the person, group, and/or organization.

The vision questing process encourages distancing oneself from "normal," everyday vision; it inspires a sense of having opened one's eyes for the first time. Initially, personal and social constructs of what constitute "reality" cloud the individual awareness of "what is." Yet as the questing principles disrupt these constructs by breaking perceptual mirrors of the past, a new, broader way of perceiving evolves. Often, this experience of moving beyond the mundane brings with it a deep, internal knowing that surfaces through the creation or emergence of compelling internal pictures, similar to the deep sense of self a child experiences when lucidly day-dreaming about his or her future-as a jet pilot, perhaps, or a champion of the community, or a time-traveler.

Principle Three:

The experience enables us to become more of who or what we are, and therefore changes how we are in the world.

Questing allows our innermost qualities to surface within our awareness, and therefore within our day-to-day world. This surfacing and embrace of the deepest and perhaps most hidden integral elements of personality and character correlates to the fundamental principle of the Paradoxical Theory of Change, which postulates that the more fully we are able to be who we already are, the more we will change.

Principle Four:

Visions come to children, and to adults who can make themselves like children.

This principle echoes Kathy Dannemiller's Whole-Scale Change premise to bring open-mindedness together with open-heartedness. This "child-like," passionate world is one wherein judgment is suspended and playfulness is possible, even necessary. It is that place where "what is" is defined through moment-by-moment experience instead of through various pre-existing internal constructs or through dictates from the outside and from the past.

Principle Five:

  Vision comes when we are humble and pitiable.

Vision questing in its earliest form h­as been called "crying for a vision" and "lamentation."3More recently, vision questing is described as being recepti­ve and vulnerable, being at the boundary of oneself, or maki­ng contact with the Self or Other at the edge of discomfort. These characteristics mark a place where the veiled defenses of how to be in the world are lifted-like the moment just before one acknowledges that the emperor has no clothes.

Principle Six:

Vision's power comes as we listen to our own, internal stories.

We all carry within us domineering voic­es from the past as well as the unwritten yet indelibly known rules of being a member of a family, a community, or an organization. Gestalt theory refers to these internal constraints as introjects-ima­ge-creating and behavior-controlling concepts that we have "swallowed whole," that is, taken into ourselves on faith or demand without our conscious and/or reasoned input. ­These introjects are in many ways unconnected to the present, yet they are still impacting every moment of one's life. They are personal and/or social constructs that we have maintained as ways to "do" ourselves or ways "to be." Vision questing encourages these internal stories to surface, to come into awareness. As we give voice and ear to these internal stories, older and more deeply personal stories can begin to be told and, in the process, reborn.

Principle Seven:

Vision's power comes as we learn to communicate with our deepest selves.

Our deepest self is often the site of terrible fears and "unspeakables." By allowing these two negative aspects to fully and clearly emerge, we can decide upon and release what is no longer applicable. But old dreams and hopes may also surface from these deepest selves, reminding us of a forgotten self, of who and what we really are.

Principle Eight:

Vision's power comes when we can honor those dreams that energize the very essence of who we are and how we want to be in the world.

Forgetting or repressing one's heartfelt dreams in the interest of complying with social expectations banishes and damages the soul. Remembering the dreams of the soul soothes us deeply, and reminds us of our sense of purpos­e and of that which creates meaning in one's life.

Principle Nine:

Vision's power comes to us when we can be open to something greater than ourselves.

In religious and highly personal terms, what is greater than ourselves is the power of God, Spirit, Buddha, or any other worshiped or revered Being. In organizational terms, the essence of this feeling of the existence of something greater than oneself is tied also to a sense of relatedness with others. In the U.S. Marines, for example, this sense is named Esprit de Corps: t­he spirit of the body of individuals sharing membership in this social, purposeful organization. The complementary action of those who share an understanding of being in relation with, and dedicated to, something greater than themselves is known as service.

Principle Ten:

Vision's power comes as we listen to the stories around us.

Part of the success of most large-scale change is accomplished through storytelling. Listening to the stories of others begins to open our minds and hearts, if we will only sit with the story without judgment, allowing ourselves to be aware of how the story is affecting us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Being eager to respond immediately with our own story can distance us from the storytelling other. The story we listen to well, without judging or forecasting, can touch our heads and our hearts in unforgettable ways.

Principle Eleven:

Vision's power comes when the story of a person's life joins the circle.

Building sufficient ground for a clear and compelling picture to surface enables the person to regain a sense of community with all of mankind and with nature, and to assume responsibility for one's place in the world. As the vision of the individual surfaces and joins with others', a deep sense of belonging is engendered. Such belonging becomes the "container" that holds and protects the shared vision.

Principle Twelve:

Vision's power comes when a person realizes a story that already exists.

Often, vision is experienced as a deep knowing, akin to double loop learning or the 100th Monkey phenomenon. Although the vision is inevitably something that already exists, the awareness of it as a deep knowing is new. Much of what makes a true vision so powerful and so compelling, then, is in fact its unfolding of an awareness of what has always existed.    

Principle Thirteen:

Vision's power comes when we add a new episode to that story.

The personal vision illuminates how the world is different because of one's single self, and brings us to a realization that "fate" is not what happens to us, but is what we are when we are true to ourselves. Hence, the personal vision expresses a stage of "coming into one's own," wherein the individual has stepped fully into who he or she is as a mature and contributing member of a community. The organizational vision, similarly, kindles the awareness of how the world will be different because of the organization's existence in it. The organization's visioning experience is akin to coming to understand the fullness of its existence in very basic but powerful terms-in terms of the people who will be fed, not in terms of the number of jobs provided, or in organizational quality of life, or in amount of profit gained. Vision provides exquisitely human depth to the organization.

Principle Fourteen:

Vision's power comes when the story of a person's life becomes that of life as a whole.

The questing process results in a sense of interrelatedness, captured in the Lakota phrase Mitakye Oyasin, which means "all one tribe" or "all my relations." This interrelatedness comes as a sense of oneness or wholeness with all facets and beings of life. It is a deep knowing that each action of each individual or organization has significant consequences for the whole of life. Such understanding shifts the focus, of the individual or of the organization, to a truly world view.

Framing the Vision

There are some additional criteria that should be met that might increase the length of the vision statement. For example, a vision statement, consistent with the natural laws of organizations,  should provide a frame of reference for each member of the organization as well as the overall organization (as a separate entity). This is sometimes called "framing what we want and what we need." To do this, the vision statement should include the following:

  • It should represent or reflect or portray a future or goal or way of life that creates meaning, excitement and commitment at all levels of the organization-individual, group and organization.
  • It should create value in some form, internally and externally, at multiple levels----such as physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually for the individual, group, and organization, as well as for the public being served.
  • It should reveal or reflect, implicitly or explicitly, the high standards of excellence and/or the core values of life within the organization and for all of its members.
  • It should provide a governing frame that provides guidance at all levels (individual, group, and organization) of the decision-making processes, similar to the concepts of the guiding hands of God or the invisible hand of capitalism.
  • It should inspire and/or make-meaning for all levels of organization.
  • The vision statement that meets all of the above criteria will tend to be timeless, meaning that it will endure the test of time by remaining near and dear to all levels of organization well into the future.

To be continued...

 In the next issue, we continue the discussion on visioning.

31. "A passionate expression of grief. A song, piece of music, or poem expressing grief or regret."