A coach is a person able to teach, train and advise someone, to improve skills and/or practice and to make his/her coachee reflect about achievements and how to improve from the lessons learned.
It takes some experience and skill to coach others, that’s why I am not comfortable hearing the words coach or coaching that often is business, these words being used way too lightly in my opinion.
Many of the alleged coachings are nothing more than a kind of facilitation or workshop moderation. Coaching may sound better and please the facilitator’s ego, but it isn’t coaching.
What coaching means to me is living a significant part of time with the coachee on the shop floor or gemba (can be an office, warehouse, hospital, whatsoever) and making use of real problems to help him/her to improve his/her ability to cope with unexpected and random situations.
It may well need a structured approach, a set of principles, methods and a toolbox, but real-life problems are seldom solved in the way the examples in training classes depict.
Many of the real-life problems need a bit of creativity because they may be similar to previously experienced ones, but slight differences can hinder the same solutions to apply. A coach should have the ability to find a way to overcome this kind of difficulty and design a suitable experiment for solving the problem.
When a problem arises, it is an opportunity for the coach to see how the coachee is approaching it, and if needed give some advice and later feedback.
The coach does not need to know the solution and have answers to everything, but at least have the ability to analyze and make out a way to attack a problem in a structured way, then help his/her coachee to do the same without too much interference. After all, it’s the coachee’s golden opportunity to learn.
Except when regulatory constraint, if so-called coaches keep sticking to the book or procedures and are reluctant to “experiment”, it’s usually a sign of lack of experience and/or maturity. The stronger the cling, the less useful the “coach”.
The “coaching” mentioned in part one is therefore more about procedure reinforcement than real coaching. Its value lies maybe in the rollout of the Lean program but not in developing people’s skills.