Q&A with Erik de Haan, Director of the Ashridge Centre for Coaching.
Critical Moments in Executive Coaching examines the change process supported by workplace and executive coaching, making use of empirical evidence from the study of a range of real coaching conversations and coaching relationships. It is both a complete handbook that for the first time gives access to a global qualitative research base in the field of executive coaching, and a look behind the scenes into the practice of both inexperienced and experienced coaches, their clients and their commissioners.
We caught up with author and Director of the Ashridge Centre for Coaching, Erik de Haan, ahead of his book launch to talk about ‘mini-outcomes’, motivation and how an Akira Kurosawa film relates to coaching.
What is your new book about and who is it aimed at?
Firstly, it is the first and only handbook of qualitative research in coaching. It summarises all major qualitative research programmes around the world over the past two decades to give the reader an in depth understanding of the subject.
Secondly, it focuses on the importance of ‘mini outcomes’. These are the moments of change such as development, insight, learning, or rupture that happen during coaching sessions. It summarises our own research since 2002 into such ‘mini outcomes’, outlining the critical moments in the coaching relationship. The book summarises and analyses 561 real-life moments of coaching as reported by clients, coaches and their commissioners.
Thirdly, it provides deeper reflection on the change process within coaching, with countless examples of how change happens in coaching conversations.
What was your motivation for writing it?
I have been fascinated with ‘mini-outcomes’ for almost 20 years. My first prep assignments for executive coaching development programmes contained a question about them for the participants and it’s come up on many occasions since.
My main motivation for writing this book was to open up a series of seven peer-reviewed articles about these topics that were not so accessible to the general public, coaches or their clients. I worked very hard to preserve the main content of those articles but preceded them with executive summaries and introductions that made them easier to read.
What is the ‘Rashomon effect’ and how does this relate to coaching?
Rashomon is Kurosawa’s classical movie where four participants in an event come out with at least three different stories about the event that they participated in – and they cannot all be true. The Rashomon effect is named after this conundrum where you have different stories about the same conversation.
The Rashomon effect would be when client and coach come out with very different ideas about what was critical or important in that meeting, or about the mini-outcomes.
In the book we test the conjecture and look for a Rashomon effect. To our surprise, we do not find one, so it seems to a large extent coach and coachee agree about their meeting together and what was critical or significant in that meeting.