Thursday, October 27, 2005

So how DO we coach??

So how DO we coach??


It's easy to criticize.  But it is more important to offer a way to improve. 


So, if we are to beware the coach who sneaks up from behind, what instead DO we do when a situation calls for coaching?


A difficult question and depends on one's strengths and the context of the situation.  Yet, in the Lean setting, one common denominator of effective coaches is consistent use of the Socratic Method.


The Socratic Method is simply an approach that does not tell the student what to think but rather leads the student by way of well-crafted questions towards discovering the answer for herself.  It is very much the opposite of our usual method of training and Western style education in general.  But, it works.


Steve Spears observed this in his key articles on the Lean.   Jim Collins found use of the Socratic Method a common practice in his study of Good to Great companies.  Womack and Jones cite this as normal.  I've seen it repeatedly myself. 


The best source of understanding of the Socratic Method I've found on the web is from Rick Garlikov.  In his paper The Socratic Method, Rick shows us how to use this method by example.  He includes a transcript of his questions to teach a group of third graders binary numbers by ONLY asking questions.  In his companion piece Using Questions to Teach Better he builds deeper on what questions work and which ones don't.


If you are interested in not being a "Coach Dan", read Rick's papers and then, within 24 hours, try it. This is a method that you truly learn by doing.  Email me with your results and let me know what you discovered; about yourself, about your subject matter, about the method of teaching. 


I'll post a recent Socratic experience of mine in my next blog. 


I hope this is helpful.


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