Maximizing Impact: How Deploying Coaching at Scale is Redefining How We Solve Problems

Hundreds of coachees work together to solve the most pressing issues of the day, in business and within the world at large with second-order thinking.

The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring Lumia Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!

This podcast was inspired by the ICF Executive and Leadership Coaching Community of Practice's 2023 video "Coaching in Crisis - Second Order Coaching with Tom Kolditz." 

As we step into a new year, amidst a world grappling with collective grief and societal fragmentation, coaches have the opportunity to become social “first responders” to serve humanity and to support folks in solving some of the most pressing issues of our time. 

Considering some of those big issues and how to solve them? Tom Kolditz, who is the Director of the Ann and John Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University–a comprehensive, evidence-based, university-wide leader development program. 

Kolditz’ work in the realm of coaching and leadership has laid a pathway for shaking up the coaching profession – by proposing some radical ideas about how coaches can operate on an even larger scale.

Second Order Coaching is Deploying Coaches at Scale

Second Order Coaching is an emerging trend that involves deploying a multitude of coaches, each with unique perspectives and skills, to address a singular issue within an organization, community, or even on a national level.

This is a major evolution in coaching, one that is linked to the future creation of coaching jobs.

This approach is not just a method; it's a significant shift in how we perceive and implement coaching strategies. 

First Order vs. Second Order Thinking

The concept of "second order" change is about transformative and radical shifts that alter existing systems, structures, or worldviews

This is contrasted with "first-order" thinking, which focuses on making adjustments or improvements within the confines of the current system. First-order thinking is akin to fine-tuning or tinkering, making minor changes without challenging the underlying system. 

Second-order change, on the other hand, is about a complete overhaul, requiring a new perspective and approach. It's about reimagining and reinventing processes or systems to create significant, often large-scale, impact and change. This type of change is described as transformational, revolutionary, radical, disruptive, or discontinuous.

How One Man Used Second Order Thinking to Effect Massive Change

A prime example of Second Order thinking in action is chef Jose Andres. Initially focused on the traditional restaurant business, he evolved his mission to "Change the World Through the Power of Food." This led to the revolutionary step of deploying chefs to crisis zones worldwide, exemplifying how stepping out of conventional systems can create impactful change.

This filled a need in places where people needed to be fed and created visibility for areas experiencing crisis. Andres began living his mission at scale using “second order” thinking to look up and out of the system that was the dominant system. 

Andres was able to step outside his prescribed system as a chef who started out selling meals to individuals at a restaurant, and began to think about how he could use his skills to broaden and create impact to solve the problems of the world.

Second Order Coaching in Practice

In applying second order thinking to coaching it is important to note that second order relies on thinking that solves problems of scale in ways that are outside of what is possible within a previously existing system.  

Because coaching is such a new discipline it is vital to understand that the introduction of a large number of coaches to work on a given problem within an existing system has never been done before!  This innovative approach will by default disrupt the functioning of any existing system by bringing in a coaching process.

So what might that look like in practice?

At Rice University, this concept has been put into motion with remarkable results. Around 2017, all students were given access to coaching, which lead to a significant enhancement in leadership development. This initiative has not only created numerous coaching jobs but has also laid a blueprint for other institutions to follow. 

The Future of Second Order Coaching

The scope of Second Order Coaching extends to various sectors, including the military, corporate world, healthcare, and education. It involves extensive collaboration among coaches to achieve significant, shared goals.

As life coaches, it's vital to not only think about how we want to impact individual client lives… but how our work might contribute to larger-scale change. 

What structures or systems have you been a part of that you think could benefit from an approach like this?

 How might you envision working with a group of coaches to achieve a larger-scale goal?

Second Order Coaching isn't just a method—it's a vision for the future, offering us a unique opportunity to reshape our society in these tumultuous times. It’s also a herald of opportunities to come!

Ready to Become A Coach?

One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our life coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like a partner in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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