Coaching PACT Practitioners
This post is in two parts – the 1st part where I learned from a PACT Practitioner Development experience for a client beyond delivering workshops – and the 2nd part where I took a more structured and long term approach for developing a staff member – using a structured coaching approach and a Learning Log.
By the early 1990s I had developed approximately a dozen consultant staff members at my consulting firm – Svenson & Wallace, Inc (SWI) where I was one of 3 partners, and I had developed a couple of dozen of my client’s staff ISDers, in my PACT Processes for T&D.
I first started working with my client’s staff in 1983 after conducting a Curriculum Architecture Design effort or two to develop performance-based T&D Paths. They wanted to be self-sufficient and it was our practice as a consulting firm to help our clients become self-sufficient if that was their desire.
By 1993 those clients included:
- AT&T Network Systems
- Dow Chemical
- Hewlett Packard (HP)
- MCC Powers
My most recent client staff development efforts had been early in 1993 with Christie Westall at HP and one of her colleagues. Christie had been through 2 complete CAD efforts with me – the first in 1991, where she observing me doing both projects, and then when a third effort came up, her boss asked me if I would train her in how to do the work herself. I said yes.
We planned to co-conduct the project with me modeling each step and then having her take the reins and finishing it that step.
We first conducted a fairly formal briefing prior to the start of the project with another of her colleagues, and a series of one-on-one briefings prior to each of the 4 meetings with the Project Steering Team, the Analysis Team meeting, the Design Team meeting, and the Implementation Planning Team meeting.
Her colleague observed some of my efforts during that 3rd project, but not the pre-meeting briefings – and he then went off to go conduct a project solo. It did not work out for him and it was a few years later I found out how badly it had gone. The people he worked with had called me to come out to California from Chicago for a sales call to discuss a potential project – but when they saw my materials they discovered that I wanted to do what Christie’s colleague had tried to do with them months earlier – and they swore their clients would not stand to have their time wasted like that again.
It had gotten bogged down in the Analysis Team meeting and that colleague of Christie’s didn’t know how to answer the challenging questions about why do things this way and where it would all lead.
But the Curriculum Architecture Design (CAD) project with Christie went very well. It was on a business critical issue: Order Fulfillment. It was an oft cited example of Business ReEngineering – all the rage back then.
After she and I finished that CAD effort, Christie hired my long-time friend and NSPI colleague, Darryl Sink, to develop the content – and they both won an NSPI award for it – which she later credited my involvement – in a handout she shared at the conference where they accepted the award.
I also did a Blog Post on this back in 2012 – here.
The entire effort was also mentioned in the business press – more on that later.
In mid-1992 I was getting so busy with work that my 2 business partners (one of whom was my then-wife) suggested that I take on an assistant.
We interviewed a current production staff member for that role, she accepted, we fronted her $500 for a wardrobe upgrade, and just as we were starting, her family decided she shouldn’t do it and leave her children in the care of her husband while traveling with me. That ended that. It was the 1990s.
So in early 1993 my then-wife hired a young woman while I happened to be skiing in Colorado and when I checked in via the phone from mid-mountain she told me, “You’re going to like the new girl we just hired.” She was going to be an assistant to the entire staff, unless I deemed her a possible assistant to me.
So I took a promising new staff member under my wing, who was still the Office Girl (OG) at SWI, to potentially become my assistant and started giving her tough assignments. She proved very capable and so I fairly quickly announced to the staff that she would be the OG no more. Of course, that raised all sorts of jealousies as she jumped to the front of the line so to speak, and no longer was available to the rest of our Home Team – the Production Staff – to do their copying and binder assembly and lunch runs.
She was joining the Traveling Team. On her way to becoming an associate Consultant.
I decided to make this an experiment – and prove whether or not I could take someone with zero corporate training background – although she had just been a kindergarten teacher for two years before bailing on that – and turn her into a PACT Practitioner Consultant.
So, as structured as I normally am, I planned carefully how to go about this.
I briefed the OG on how this would be accomplished. She’d tag along with me on projects and handle OG type things – but with a twist. She was there to observe and learn – and take copious notes – but also had to demonstrate value to the client while there on their tab – therefore she’d still be doing some OG type things – for me – and for the clients as needed, while at their sites. She did well. And she took notes. Copious Notes.
One key thing I had decided to do in this experiment was to have the OG start a Learning Log – using the engineering notebooks that my other business partner, Ray Svenson, kept in abundance in the supply locker. Ray had been a Bell Labs engineer – and if you know engineers – their habits are well ingrained. He always took “copious notes” – as we joked about our note taking habits – in those engineering notebooks. I myself used something similar, but not those notebooks.
So the OG went and got one of those engineering notebooks and we sat in my office and I mapped out on a whiteboard the structure I wanted her to use. And how we would use this Learning Log.
Please read the next graphic for the 4 part approach.
The key was in both the Briefing – and Debriefings – but also in the Q&A – and in my reading the “copious notes” and making notes myself and then discussing it all – all over again from time to time – as we went through CAD project after CAD project.
By the time the OG started with me I had completed 48 CAD efforts – and I had my approach down cold. Most of the Continuous Improvements had been made and I was into stable, predictable processes that could be replicated by any of the staff.
As Rigorous as Required but As Flexible as Feasible.
I felt that the OG would have a valuable resource as we did several projects – me in the lead until I eventually handed it over to her to go solo – first with me sitting in the back not saying anything unless it was necessary. After that – it was really solo.
More On That HP Effort
An article in MEASURE in 1993 about the challenge that HP was facing – here.
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