How will innovation coaches support leaders to navigate the current Covid-19  crisis – considering that, in a recent article McKinsey “Beyond coronavirus: The path to the next normal” states that:

“It is increasingly clear our era will be defined by a fundamental schism: the period before COVID-19 and the new normal that will emerge in the post-viral era: the “next normal.” In this unprecedented new reality, we will witness a dramatic restructuring of the economic and social order in which business and society have traditionally operated. And in the near future, we will see the beginning of discussion and debate about what the next normal could entail and how sharply its contours will diverge from those that previously shaped our lives”.

Adding to this BCG stated in a recent article “Leading out of adversity:”

The pandemic has layered on an enormous transitional challenge—the need to move from a situation where the real economy has been placed in a coma by social distancing measures, to building a path to growth and prosperity. As a result, companies in many sectors will have to survive a brutal short term in order to access long-term options. But while survival may be top of mind today, thriving is the long game. And this requires leaders to respond to a new environment, a new customer, and heightened societal expectations in order to lead the way out of adversity”.

The innovation coaching opportunity

As innovation coaches, we are already skilled and experienced in inspiring, supporting, and enabling individuals and teams to adapt and grow through chaos, adversity, and disruption.  As well as in nurturing, embedding and aligning innovation-led change or a digital transformation in a business or an organisation.  Whilst none of us knows what the “new normal” will look or be like, as coaching professionals, we can support and enable our clients to take advantage of the COVID 19 crisis and the uncertainty it has manifested.

Innovation coaches elicit and explore the options available to help clients create the mindset shifts to transition and move toward an uncertain future proactively. They can, in effect, through their generative listening and inquiring skillset, support them to co-create a viable future where business leaders create a collective narrative of hope and catalyse bold collective action by seeing:

“COVID-19 as an inflection point for collective progress, rather than as a squandered opportunity”.

Innovation coaching process in a crisis

Innovation coaches know how to artfully, safely and skilfully generate creative conversations and safe provocative debates about what the next normal could or might entail.

By applying their critical and creative thinking strategies, generative listening, inquiring and debating skills to leverage, adapt and coach clients through the five stages outlined by McKinsey in the  innovation coaching process to:

  1. Acknowledge and Resolve the personal problems and business issues that have arisen as a result of the crisis.
  2. Increase their Resilience in the face of adversity.
  3. Return to some semblance of normalcy.
  4. Reimagine an abundant, sustainable, collaborative and innovative future.
  5. Reinvent or Reform their leadership, business, social and strategic agendas.

Innovation coaching key steps

Innovation coaches facilitate candid, disruptive and provocative, creative coaching conversations; a generative process within a safe container and collective and purposeful holding space in which individuals, teams, organisations, and eco-systems can function, adapt, create, invent, innovate and grow.

Innovation coaches support clients to co-create the new normal by experimenting with the menu of key innovation coaching questions.

Allowing clients to take the time and space to deeply reflect on the current crisis and how it may have impacted them personally and professionally. Then listening generatively for the cracks, openings and thresholds to emerge the new inflection points necessary for co-creating the new, passionately purposeful narrative.

  1. Reveal, Acknowledge and Resolve the personal problems and business issues that have arisen so far, as a result of the crisis:
  • How does it really feel to be in your current situation?
  • What would it be like, for you, and your family/team, if you could safely share some of these feelings?
  • What are some of the key assumptions you hold about the current crisis?
  • What would it be like, for you, and your family/team, if some of your assumptions were not true?
  • What is your greatest fear or worst-case scenario and why?
  • What do you really think/feel about that?
  1. Increase their Resilience in the face of adversity:
  • What have you done before that has helped you overcome challenging situations?
  • What personal resources do you have to draw from that/those thoughts, feelings/actions?
  • What else can you take from those experiences?
  • How could you frame this crisis differently now?
  • What could be possible for you personally and professionally from this crisis?
  • What might help you feel calmer, empathic and more courageous about the crisis now?
  1. Return to some semblance of normalcy.
  • What do you consider to be your most urgent and important business priorities right now?
  • Why have our customers chosen us? What made us different?
  • What problem did we solve for customers?
  • What changes in customer behaviour and needs might there be in the future?
  • What can you do to reassess your business systems or key processes now that so much has changed?
  • What plans can you develop for contingent actions in order to survive and establish stability in an increasingly uncertain world?
  • What can you do to stay agile and yet mitigate further risks?
  1. Reimagine an abundant, sustainable, collaborative and innovative future.
  • What if you could wave a magic wand – what would you do to add value to your customers in the new normal?
  • What new problems will our customers have in the future?
  • In what new ways could these problems be solved?
  • How might you think differently about that?
  • What is it that you really want to achieve in the post-crisis world?
  • How important is this to you?
  • What might be holding you back from having that?
  • What if there were no limitations, how might you feel and what would you do?
  • How might you think differently about that?
  1. Reinvent or Reform their passionate purpose, leadership, business, social and strategic agendas.
  • If you had a superpower that would create the life you want, what would it be?
  • Why is it important to you, and to your family, to have that life?
  • How might it truly feel like, to have that life?
  • What might stop you from having that life?
  • How might you think differently about that?
  • What might you really think about in order to initiate manifesting that life?
  • How might we explore that idea more deeply?
  • How might we handle it differently?
  • How might we inspire people to deeply connect & engage in this idea?
  • What else?
  • Where else might this lead?

Wrapping up questions to identify changes and agree next steps actions:

  • What do you consider as your biggest win of the session?
  • What will you actually do next and by when?
  • How will you know you have succeeded, or not? What will be different?
  • How will you hold yourself accountable for making that happen?
  • How might you celebrate success?

Mobilizing collective action and progress  

Innovation coaches enable people to create openings (possibilities) and bravely walk through thresholds that develop people’s curiosity and creativity, connectedness, and compassion, as well as their confidence and courage to survive crises and thrive in their passionately purposeful “new normal”.

Enabling clients to safely experiment with smart risk-taking, (and failing fast), whilst artfully mastering and safely using creative tension and cognitive dissonance as creative catalysts for effecting the transformational changes required to co-create a sustainable and equitable future for all.

Join the next free monthly innovation coaching webinars in our Making Innovation a Habit Series – “Dancing with Disruption” on Tuesday, 5th May at 6.00pm New York & 3.00pm San Francisco and on Wednesday, 6th March at 8.00am Sydney & Melbourne, 2020. Register now.