We’ve now had two full years of AF consulting and coaching circles. It is time to 1) take a look back, 2) reflect and 3) make a plan for the future of coaching circles.
If I’m correct, Marko Taipale came up with the idea of AF coaching circles. It was in the AF yearly assembly a little over two years ago. If I remember right, Marko’s motivation for initiating coaching circles was to come up with an activity for AF that would provide an experienced AF member like him some value. And if I understand right, the value proposition was that he could gain more knowledge and be able to gain more insights by engaging in a rich dialogue with fellow experienced practitioners of coaching and consulting. And that is a proposition that for me at least came true in the first couple of sessions of coaching circle.
Since then, the nature of coaching circle sessions has shifted a little. First and foremost, the attendance is up. We are now getting over 20 people regularly in the sessions. Second, we are drafting more and more people from outside the circle to facilitate the sessions.
The attendance of course is very nice for the point-of-view of AF. Coaching circles are the only regular activity in AF in Helsinki area so it is good that what we do attracts people. On the other hand it is difficult to have rich dialogue with over 20 people at once. And with more people, there is bound to be more diversity in interests and experience than there was in the first Autumn of coaching circles. And these things seem to be in a bit of a conflict with the value proposition for experienced AF members I described in at the beginning of this post.
Stop the press! I’ve just found out that we’ll have two more regular agile-related activities this Autumn in the Helsinki area: Agile Finland breakfast events and Agile Testing Meetups (arranged by TestausOsy). The first Agile Testing Meetup will be on August 14th. And if I’m correct, there are plans underway to hold the first AF breakfast event on September 6th.
Also, people from outside facilitating the sessions is a mixed blessing. On the one hand we’ve had very engaging sessions and outside facilitators seem to draw people. On the other hand it is sometimes difficult to explain the concept and form of our sessions to outsiders and facilitate together with them so that we get what we want out of the session. For example sharing our own experiences and discussion between participants have sometimes been left in second place compared to the planned content of the sessions. Also, some of the sessions we’ve had would have probably drawn people who are not that interested in coaching or consulting so maybe we could have had bigger events without packaging them into the coaching circle concept.
In conclusion it seems to me that having the AF coaching circle as the only regular activity in Helsinki is the core of the problem. We are basically, without meaning to, offering coaching circle both for more experienced members and everyone else, too. That leads to blurring of the focus and goal of the coaching circles.
What to do about it? I have some ideas, but I’d like to talk about this subject together with all the people who have vested interest in AF coaching circles and other AF activities in the Helsinki area.
That is why I invite you to discuss the future of AF coaching circles and maybe to invent new types of AF activities to the first AF Coaching Circle in the Autumn of 2013 on Monday August 12th to Houston Inc. at Kalasatama. Please register at EventBrite!