International Coach Federation Deutschland

What is the future of coaching?

Will coaching be dominated by AI? Are we going to be out of business?

NYU Coaching and Technology Summit set out to be the place where people come together to talk about the 2 topics of interest: coaching and technology. And that is also how it started with an opening speech of Woody Woodward, Lead Faculty Master of Science in Executive Coaching & Organizational Consulting Program NYU on the major changes in the last 12 months: out of COVID, into ChatGPT.

That was followed by a conversation on regulating AI with Keith Sonderling, Commissioner, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Main message from that conversation was: the Commission is  the one required to look into this as there is no other authority out there that seems to have a better positioning. At the same time, the US Equal Opportunity Commission can only be part of the conversation when an organization discriminates in the way they use technology or its output (for example, deciding who should receive or not coaching based on an algorithm that has potential for bias). The reverse of that is, companies should look into having robust and transparent processes throughout the interaction with their employees and not use technology to defer the responsibility of having to take unbiased decisions.

That seems to cover the topic of will “human coaches” be out of business? No, we will continue to deliver services to organizations as they will be probably slow in adopting technology out of the fear of not knowing how to properly embed it in their processes. And yes, a layer of coaching will be done by chatbots and other generative AI technology.

That was the message also of a later panel on “Emerging Tech and the Impact of AI on the Future of Coaching”. Interestingly enough, that panel was driven by non-US organizations: Emma Weber, CEO/Founder, Coach M from Australia, Nicky Terblanche, PhD, Professor, Stellenbosch University, Coach Vici, South Africa and Alex Haitoglou, Founder & CEO, Ovida, UK. The applications they introduced and the way those are shaping coaching within different regions of the world, made it clear that the way in which we currently use technology in coaching is simply the starting point. A lot of coaches look through the lenses of client interaction, but the opportunities provided by using technology as a coaching development enabler are tremendous: from processing our coaching sessions to highlight what we have done well in different coaching sessions for further competence development, to creating regular touch points with clients on their development on goals set during a coaching session, towards transforming the notion of a companion that remembers the things we have said and wanted to do. My impression is that those are the elements that we are aware of currently.

Further areas that I see where we might see development include: using a chatbot to prepare for the session (both client and coach); allowing clients to experiment with different coaching techniques, methodologies or approaches for figuring out what serves them best, without having to go through the process of enquiring different coaches and chemistry calls; an aggregator between different development modalities, like the output of coaching, what we read, what we include in our reflecting or gratitude journal, our meditations, etc

 

 

As I’ve mentioned aggregator – well, it looks like that was an insider joke from last year. In the panel “The Evolving Business of Coaching in a High Tech World”, there were several balls thrown between industry players. Sinead Keenan, Chief Innovation Officer and Head of EZRA Labs, Jonathan Kirschner, Founder & CEO, AiiR Consulting, Pam Krulitz, Co-founder & CEO, Optify, Parker Mitchell, Co-founder & CEO, Valence and Alex Pascal, PhD, Founder & CEO, Coaching.com painted a picture of how diverse the market is currently. You can see it as split between:

  • Digital coaching platforms “aggregating” different coaches in their pool of coaches to address the need of organizations and enable coaches to get access to diversified client base via the platform;
  • Platforms acting as provider of tools for any coach to grow and run their business, but the business is generated individually;
  • Provider of data crunching solutions to companies, coupled with human interaction to make sense of that data and support teams further down the line;
  • Customizable solution that companies can use to build their own digital coaching platforms.

Main take away of that was that the landscape is expanding constantly and that coaches need to stay connected to the evolving options, for the sake of understanding how those changes might impact their business model. And it looks like coaches will be more and more faced with the decision around being an “aggregator” or an “enabler”: do we want to aggregate clients by providing our services on multiple digital coaching platforms, or we act as an “enabler” for our own business, by keeping sales and client acquisition within own process.

One of the panels that at the beginning was seen a bit critical was on “The Enterprise View of Coaching Services in a Digital Environment” as both guessed were brought in by the sponsors, turned out to be surprising. After delivering info around how they use the sponsors technology, Wendy Boise, Vice President, Global Talent and Organization Development, Colgate- Palmolive Company and Rachel Gonzalez Levy, Global Human Resources, Performance & Development, Culture, Organization Effectiveness, Bristol Myers Squibb, engaged into a conversation around how they see their companies better served by technology in the future. And that raised the clear point that they expect that any provider will have as a standard approach build it to allow for a human connection. That goes back to the question of “will human coaching be replaced?” – organizations are certainly not ready and are seeing the benefits of human interaction. That it the current rate of acceptance, and that will only accelerate in the next months as more and more organizations bring in technology into their cultural transformation process.

You might be reading until now (hopefully) and noticing that basically this has been more an event on applications of technology in the organizational work. To tip the balance Alicia Hullinger, Executive Director/VP, ICF Thought Leadership Institute moderated a session on “Coach Education & Credentialing” with John L. Bennett, PhD, PCC, BCC, Professor, Business & Behavioral Science Wayland H. Cato, Niloofar Ghods, PhD, Sr. People & Communities Partner, Cisco Systems, Maureen Kennedy, MA, PCC, Head of Coaching, Bravely and Woody Woodward, PhD, PCC, Clinical Assistant Professor and Lead Faculty Master of Science in Executive Coaching & Organizational Consulting Program NYU.

The conversation highlighted that there are changes in the criteria that organizations are using to select coaches (how technical savvy they are, flexibility, business understanding, match towards the organization, etc) and that is coupled with a need to look more into the body of knowledge that forms coaching as a profession.

Unfortunately, the main topic of credentialing and coach education was not really touched upon. A lot of the participants echoed during the coffee breaks, similar perception as with the EMCC Global Conference in Prague one week before: the role of the coaching associations needs to be defined clearly and they need to represent a strong participant at the conversation on the development of coaching and technology.

The last panel of the day was a showcase from BetterUp of their new functionality - chatbots and generative AI to support the coaching process. Shonna Waters, Vice President, Executive Advisory, BetterUp moderated the presentations of Moritz Sudhof, Director of Engineering, BetterUp, Anshul Sheopuri, Senior Vice President, People Analytics & Insights, Mastercard and Amir Ghowski, Director of Product Management, BetterUp. The session revolved around what are language models in simple words and how does it look like to interact with a coaching chatbot Unfortunately, due to lack of time, the BetterUp solution could be tested only for a couple of minutes and my impression was that it was along the line of the chatbot that the consortium led by ICF Germany implemented in the COACH-IT project. If you haven’t had the chance to test that, go ahead and register for free on coachit.online.

It's more and more clear that digital coaching platforms started working individually on creating their own solution and there are trying to figure out how to deploy it in such a way that maintains clients and coaches satisfied.

At the end let’s go back to the main question “What is the future of coaching?”. It’s being currently constructed, and the direction is constantly changing. There are a multitude of stakeholders and coaches and professional associations are trying to figure out their role and place in the process of co-construction.

 

Grafik: ICF


coachfederation.de  |  coachingtag.com

ISSN: 2702-7880

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