by Richard Boston (UK)

Most coaching clients are facing increasing amounts of change, complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity. What if there was a simple but highly effective way to help us all – clients and coaches alike – to ‘upgrade’ our capacity to deal with all that complexity?

Have you ever had a sense that some of the people you work with seem to be at a different stage in their development than others? Perhaps they are quicker to find patterns and carve a path through the complexity, or more able to step back and see situations from a different perspective, or more willing to question their thinking, their values and even their own identity.

In Upgrade, Karen Ellis and I look at those differences in terms of four mental capacities that we all rely on to deal with complex, fast-moving environments:

1.         Sense-making to find patterns and clarity in the mass of complex, interconnected data that assail us every day
2.        Perspective-shifting to ‘zoom out’ to see things from different points of view
3.        Self-relating to understand and manage ourselves, and drive our own development
4.        Opposable Thinking to notice, understand and work with opposing ideas, positions or values

All of us have all four of these capacities. We just vary in our ability to use them. In Upgrade, Karen and I differentiate between a number of different levels in each capacity. Each is a massive step-change in how people think about themselves, the world, and everyone and everything in it. Each ‘upgrade’ from one level to the next makes us better at handling ‘VUCA’* situations; better at handling transitions into bigger, more complex jobs. When you and I come across clients who are struggling, stuck in a rut, plateauing in their careers, or repeating counter-productive behaviours time and time again, they are almost certainly in need of an upgrade.

Source: iCN Issue 32  (Coaching Tools, Techniques & Models for Coaching); pages