Coaching for Innovation: A Few Great Questions

Photo by alexgg

Photo by alexgg

We do quite a bit of coaching at Peer Insight— for managers, for steering committees and for innovation teams. Coaching can look very different depending on the situation, from advice-giving to co-exploring to provocative question-asking.

To me, the hardest but also the most rewarding type of coaching is that which helps the client discover their own “right answers", especially because, in innovation work, every project, every client, every organization is different, and what’s “right” will differ as well. 

Below are a few of my favorite coaching questions. Try them out next time you’re coaching a colleague (or yourself!) through a period of ambiguity.

  • [Taken from Chip & Dan Heath’s Decisive]. Imagine you make the decision that you're contemplating now.
    • How will you feel about it 10 minutes from now?
    • How about 10 months from now?
    • How about 10 years from now?
  • What assumptions are you making about this situation? Let’s list them out.
    • Then test for leaps of logic, ask for supporting evidence.
  • Suppose that when you go to sleep tonight a miracle occurs and your challenge is solved. When you wake up in the morning, what clues will you notice that will let you know the miracle has happened?
    • How can you reverse-engineer that miracle by creating some of those clues in your current reality?
  • How would...
    • your favorite teacher handle this situation?
    • a start-up CEO handle this situation?
    • your newest employee handle this situation?
    • you advise your friend or spouse to handle this situation if it were theirs?
  • And some oldies but goodies:
    • Tell me more…
    • What else?
    • [Patient silence] Sometimes the client will work it out themselves if just given the space to think out loud. 

What are some of your favorite coaching questions? Leave me a comment below or message me: @BreeAGroff.