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Today's Coach - The Fluent Practitioner - A Brand New Skill Set
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Today's Coach - The Fluent Practitioner - A Brand New Skill Set

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Leading edge skills for consultants, coaches and facilitators. The Fluent Practitioner is a brand new set of skills based on the practical use of systemic, constructionist and narrative principles.

Leading edge skills for consultants, coaches and facilitators. The Fluent Practitioner is a brand new set of skills based on the practical use of systemic, constructionist and narrative principles.

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  • 1. THE FLUENT PRACTITIONER CONSULTANT COACH FACILITATOR
  • 2. The FLUENT Practitioner Definition In this context, the fluent practitioner is a consultant, coach or facilitator who works easily with their client’s language, ways of talking and conversational practices and who readily adapts their own language, way of talking and conversational practice to jointly create improvements that last fluent adjective 1  the ability to speak a foreign language easily and accurately 2  the ability to move smoothly, effortlessly and elegantly 3  the ability to think of many diverse and creative ideas quickly Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 3. In practice When working successfully as a fluent practitioner… Your language becomes mine… My language becomes yours… And a new language, previously unknown to both of us, becomes ours… That’s the FLUENT practitioner Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 4. Who is this useful for? Consultants, coaches or facilitators who work… With Individuals With Groups and Teams With Organisations …to improve engagement, capability and performance. Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 5. Useful in many roles The skills of a fluent practitioner are useful in many roles Directors and Managers Management & OD Consultants Professional Specialists Coaches and Mentors HR Business Partners Learning Facilitators Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 6. How does it work? A fluent practitioner works with these general assumptions THE CLIENT THE PRACTITIONER Knows the context Asks questions and listens Sets the direction Takes their lead from the client Is resourceful Structures the process Wants to be effective Provides ideas and suggestions Leads improvement THE RELATIONSHIP Is accountable for their results Is fluent in the language of the system they know Equal partners Both bring expertise Supports improvement Is accountable for their effectiveness Is fluent in the language of the system they know Share knowledge and understanding Learn from each other Work together Client decides Make progress by learning a little of each other’s language Everything takes place in language and conversation – it always has. Fluent practitioners work with this more than those who don’t Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 7. FLUENT Practitioners attach a high importance to language They work with these specific assumptions, too… 4 1 Language and conversation are the primary resources for getting things done For improvements to work, clients need to create them in conversation, in language that’s meaningful and relevant to them 2 5 Language is local – each organisation, function, team and individual has a language, vocabulary and way of talking all of their own 3 The ability to work in the client’s local language is critically important to the practitioner’s effectiveness and the client’s success When fluent practitioners provide an idea, they expect their client to translate it into their own language so it makes sense to them, locally 6 To implement plans successfully, clients need to be skilful in holding effective conversations because talking is the way they things get done Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 8. Working with the client’s language is usually unfamiliar Organisations are human systems. Take any organisation you know and think about the language, vocabulary and stories that matter to them – and nobody else History Success stories Acronyms Job titles Turns of phrase Our language, our words, our stories.. It’s the way we make sense and how we do things together Vision, Purpose Strategy, Values Initiatives and major projects Technical and professional terms Metaphor Products and services Vernacular Gossip Standards and procedures Idiom Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 9. Letting go of our own language isn’t easy People can be attached to what they know… and the language in which it is stated - especially consultants! Examples… We get attached to the language of our knowledge because it is often: 4 Box Grids Tried and tested Triangles and Pyramids Based on research 3 Circles Validated by experience Star Models Familiar and reliable Change Management Roadmaps Approved as ‘professional expertise’ by training, qualifications etc Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 10. From certainty to doubt In order to work in our client’s language, we have to suspend and sometimes entirely give up the certainty we have in our own. In this way, working with a sense of doubt becomes much more productive FLUENT YES doubt ORIENTATION TO MY CLIENT’S KNOWLEDGE Am I able to judge the relevance, meaning and usefulness of the language of my client’s knowledge against their criteria, not mine? certainty NO FIXED NO YES FLUENT ORIENTATION TO MY OWN KNOWLEDGE Am I able to put the language of my own knowledge ‘at risk’ so that I might understand, learn and work in and with my client’s? Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 11. Why doubt matters He is quick, thinking in clear images; I am slow, thinking in broken images. He becomes dull, trusting to his clear images; I become sharp, mistrusting my broken images. Trusting his images, he assumes their relevance; Mistrusting my images, I question their relevance. In Broken Images by Robert Graves Assuming their relevance, he assumes the fact, Questioning their relevance, I question the fact. When the fact fails him, he questions his senses; When the fact fails me, I approve my senses. He continues quick and dull in his clear images; I continue slow and sharp in my broken images. He in a new confusion of his understanding; I in a new understanding of my confusion. Photo credit: The Poetry Foundation Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 12. Implication If we want to work in the language of our client’s knowledge, we have to become fluent in it as well as in our own FIXED I remain attached to what I know and the language that makes sense to me FLUENT I become fluent in what my client knows and the language that makes sense to them Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 13. FLUENT Practitioners work with a new view of what knowledge is FIXED FLUENT From knowledge as… To knowledge as… Found in me – it’s what I know Made between us – it’s what we know Objective – it’s the truth Contextual – it’s what we agree to be true Universal and enduring – it works everywhere Local and changeable – it works here, for now This has implications for practitioners… Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 14. And it changes our view of what a practitioner does FIXED FLUENT From the Practitioner as… To the Practitioner as… ‘Acting on’ the client and their situation ‘Joining with’ the client and their situation Applying general knowledge Working with local knowledge As a detached and certain expert As an involved and curious participant With energy, effort and action-taking In language, conversation & meaning-making And there’s a body of knowledge for this… Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 15. It’s supported by a body of knowledge in 3 related areas SYSTEMIC IDEAS Systemic ideas guide the FLUENT practitioner to see the organisation as a human system in which people interact on the basis of beliefs they hold about their roles and relationships. Improvements call for changes in these parts of the system for new and better forms of behaviour to emerge. CONSTRUCTIONIST IDEAS Constructionist ideas guide the FLUENT practitioner to see all aspects of the organisation as created and sustained in language, conversation and other forms of social interaction. Improvements involve the social construction of new language, new meaning and new conversational practices to embed and sustain ‘who we are’ in ‘what we say’ and ‘how we talk’. NARRATIVE IDEAS Narrative ideas guide the FLUENT practitioner to see the organisational story (past, present and future) and ensure that new projects reflect, support and extend critical narrative elements of purpose, vision, values, strategy etc. Improvements involve enabling the creation or authorship of new story-lines in which employees feel capable, confident and engaged to play their part. Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 16. A new, integrated set of practices SYSTEMIC SKILLS CONSTRUCTIONIST SKILLS NARRATIVE SKILLS FLUENT practices are built on ideas from all three areas. They enable sustainable improvement by attending to: -  The human system of people, beliefs and behaviours -  Their task, purpose, process and performance outcomes -  Roles, relationships, patterns of interaction and effects -  Leadership for systemic engagement and improvement -  Close attention to language, conversation and communication -  Improvement using stories, story-making and corporate authorship -  Using powerful systemic and generative questioning -  With collaborative, inclusive and outcome focused activities -  And reflection to increase systemic, constructionist and narrative awareness in the client’s world so that they can use it for themselves FLUENT practices draw out, amplify and take their lead from the interests, motivation and momentum of the client. It uses questions and suggestions to raise the client’s awareness of and sensitivity to risks and priorities as it proactively enables a planned process of organisational change and improvement. Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 17. Does it matter? We hear a lot these days about ‘narrative’, ‘stories’, ‘conversation’ and ‘authorship’… In society at large, there’s a growing awareness that the things we construct in language are the things that count. The ideas that inform the fluent practitioner bring the practice of consulting, coaching and facilitating learning up to date, equipping us to help clients in ways that meet their contemporary expectations. CONVERSATION THE NARRATIVE LANGUAGE At the heart of it, language is both the medium and the product. It’s why clients need practitioners who know how to work with it. STORIES And why organisations need leaders who know how to use it well. AUTHORSHIP Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 18. In summary As a fluent practitioner, by giving up some of the certainty I have in the language of my own knowledge, I become free to learn about yours and fluent enough to create something new together, that works Your language becomes mine… My language becomes yours… And a new language, previously unknown to both of us, becomes ours… That’s the FLUENT practitioner Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved
  • 19. Developed by Tim Coburn The principles and practices of the fluent practitioner have been developed over 20 years by Tim Coburn in his various roles as an OD consultant, learning facilitator, executive coach and leadership development specialist at world class organisations including the BBC, Motorola, Rolls-Royce, Kenya Airways, Syngenta and Serco. Master-Classes for Consultants, Coaches and Facilitators Tim offers bespoke half-day and full-day Master-Class Workshops for experienced practitioners who want to extend their expertise with the additional skills of the fluent practitioner introduced in this presentation. For More Information For more information, please contact Tim at: tim@timcoburn.com Copyright 2014 Tim Coburn All Rights Reserved

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