I’m delivering a lot of coaching training at the moment. Needs of the business and all that. As happens to us L&Ders, when you repeatedly train on one topic, I start to tinker with how I’m delivering the session. One of the things I’m highly mindful of when I do this is that it needs to be supportive of the learning experience.
I pay attention to what others in this shared world of work do. Particularly I’ve been paying attention to Doug Shaw and his Art for Works Sake series, and Simon Heath and his invitational approach to using art as an expression at the recent Glasgow L&D Connect unconference.
What they’ve both helped me to come upon is how artwork can be a vehicle for discussion.
Unless you maintain artwork as a hobby or do it as your main thing, many people forget how to put pencil to paper to create art. The practise itself is not supported in many businesses, because it’s not a (directly) productive endeavour for making money.
I’m not on a crusade to reinvigorate art in a work setting. But I am interested in challenging people’s perceptions of their barriers and of their limitations. It’s far too easy to dismiss something as difficult and not take the time to explore why or what’s going on there. And it’s even easier to not focus on what t might look like if it were better.
So the first exercise I get the group to do is draw something in their view. I’m explicit in letting people know that their skill kf drawing is entirely consequential in this context and that even if the drawing is just a series of lines, that’s enough.
I then pair people up and ask them to coach their partner to do the next iteration. Again I’m careful to not give the instruction to make it better. This isn’t about judgement. It’s about helping the partner to explore what they’re doing and what they would try again or try differently.
It’s also important to note I’m not a very arty person. I don’t find drawing easy. I enjoy it but need to spend time with it. I’m asking people to practise something as a way for them to have dialogue later.
I find that the coaching conversation that ensues raises a lot of interesting insights. Some people judge the other person’s drawing. Some people offer direction via their own interpretation – e.g. “you are drawing a boat. It needs to have sails.”. Some decide to take authority “I’m the coach, you need to listen to me”. Some ask questions about what the person was trying to achieve. Some provide feedback. Some offer options for improvement.
All from an opening 20 min exercise.