Enhancing training with coaching

Over the past years we have increasingly been asked to support client organisations with their internal capacity building for service innovation. Our vast experience of working as practitioners on service innovation projects, combined with our strength in reflecting on methodology and writing about tools and principles, has built a solid foundation to deliver professional training programs.

However, we have also observed that just training in the form of masterclasses and boot camps often does not do the job for these professional and ambitious participants. The training sessions are of course fun and inspiring, but later when the participants try to apply what they have learned in the actual practice of their jobs, they often encounter new question marks and uncertainties. At these moments they may need to customise tools, or combine methods to address a specific context or objective. It takes experience and confidence to recognise when and how to make these adaptations. It is at those moments that our team of experienced practitioners offers effective support in the form of coaching. We provide bespoke guidance on real projects taking place in the organisation. This is usually where the real value of training programs is generated.

Extra value for both participants and organisations
We have developed a successful approach to combine joint training sessions with dedicated coaching on projects that the participants work on as part of their jobs. This way the training program generates more value for both the participant and the organisation. We have done such a combined approach to training enhanced with coaching for various organisations. Recently, for instance, we did this for NN (Nationale Nederlanden – one of the largest insurers in The Netherlands). We guided a group of trainees with various jobs across the organisation through an 5 month Innovation Training Program that entailed joint sessions and dedicated coaching. And we have also recently done a similar thing for Spindle (the innovation department of Partos, which is the national association of NGOs in The Netherlands).

Developing the craft of Service Innovation
Many aspects of Service Innovation are in fact a real craft. It takes time and guidance to develop the skills, experience and knowledge to apply tools and methods to actual projects. You can of course just take a tool out of a box, and apply it in some shape and form, but getting the most out of it requires a deeper understanding and also regular exercise.

In this light we sometimes jokingly compare masterclasses and boot camps to fastfood, like snacks or candy – they taste nice, and provides an immediate rush of pleasure, but the effect usually does not last very long. For a more lasting effect you need something more substantial, that has been prepared and delivered with more care and depth.

We also sometimes make a comparison with going to a gym. An initial training session usually entails an explanation and trial of a particular exercise. You see it, you do it a few times, and you are meant to keep repeating it by yourself. We all know that the actual impact and real understanding of the exercise only comes later when you keep repeating it and get better at it. And then at some point you are ready again for someone with more experience to look in on you and give some further guidance to get even better. Their advices and your understanding gradualy gets more detailed and precise over time.

Choice between collective and individual programs
While some of the training and coaching we deliver is bespoke to particular organisations, we also provide an annual course for individual professionals, in collaboration with the Business School if the University of Amsterdam. The title is ‘Design Driven Business Innovation‘ and it usually take place from September to December.