As The Management Whisperer ® I help business owners, directors and managers resolve their challenges through coaching. My Coaching Six-Pack comprises a series of six coaching sessions that can help you work through those challenges in those roles.

My approach creates the space and time for you to work through your challenges by asking you good questions. Critically, it is important to me that you, the client, owns the coaching process. In this way you, by retaining control, can arrive at a solution that works for you in your situation.

I use a combination of solutions-focused coaching integrated with the A3 management process. In this way you maintain a clearer focus, which, importantly, is evidence-based. In this way you arrive at a more effective solution.

LET’S TALK ABOUT COACHING

Having worked with and for the very worst and very best managers I know how tough life can be, even when you are performing to the top of your game. Having led a business I know how lonely it can be at the top. Fortunately I succeeded in growing that business.

When you come across a challenge as a leader, whether business owner, director or manager, do you look upon it as an opportunity for your learning and development?

Today the operating conditions for every business, or any other type of organisation, are tough. There are so many factors in play of which the ongoing ‘tech’ revolution and international competition are but two.

To deal with this fast-changing and complex world having a learning mindset is, in the view of many, one of the most valuable traits to have in any organisation, be it a business, a public sector organisation or a not-for-profit.

Whether you are free to look at challenges, issues or problems as learning opportunities naturally depends on the culture within which you work. Do you get support and encouragement for learning from such situations? Or is it a case of

Fire! Aim! Ready?

As an independent provider of management coaching services I provide you with the opportunity – space and time – to thoroughly reflect on your issue or problem and to work your way through to a suitable course of action.

The coaching conversation, supported by a developing record more on which later, encourages rigorous thinking, a robust problem-solving approach and enables you to take the initiative. The record that you develop will provide a concise case from which you can more effectively advocate change.

Usually Solutions-Focused coaching can help you work out your way forward in six sessions.

“What!” I hear you exclaim. “I haven’t got the time for that. I have to fix it now!”

And presumably that means this problem of yours, that you’ve been fixing for the last six months or whatever, you are happy to fix again tomorrow, next week or whenever. What is that doing to your Health and Wellbeing, not mention performance?

In around an hour, give or take, even your first coaching session will have begun to move you forward. Indeed you may have come up with a temporary “work-around”. Recognizing that it is temporary can reduce your stress, because you know that you are taking action.

And just recognizing that it is temporary will also mean your awareness is raised to the influences that maybe at work in the situation.

What is this Solutions-Focused coaching?

The usual thing about problems is that we all think and talk too much about the problem, which makes it appear more complex. Without going into it too deeply, rather than focus on what you do not want, Solutions-Focused coaching focuses on what you do want or are trying to achieve.

Experience has shown that resolving problems by focusing on the solutions is simpler, quicker and cheaper than focusing excessively on the problems themselves. Here’s the Solutions-Focused process:

Adapted from Jackson & McKergow (2007)

Adapted from Jackson & McKergow (2007)

Although the usual sequence is problem – platform – (miracle question) – ideal future – resources – small actions – review, if for some reason this is not working we do what works.

The essence is therefore quite simple, although it benefits from some subtlety in use. It boils down to:

  • Finding out what is already working and doing more of it

  • Stopping doing what does not work and doing something else, often what is already working

A3 Management Process

Image copyright Alan C Clark 2019

Image copyright Alan C Clark 2019

The A3 management process is built around conversations. In the case of coaching clearly one of the primary conversations will be between the coach and the client. In addition, this is support is supported by multiple conversations with anyone else who has knowledge about the problem being dealt with.

A3 refers to the document that is at the centre of the problem-solving or improvement issue that is being worked on. The term ‘A3’ refers to the paper size of this single page document. It has it’s origins in late 1970’s Toyota and to this day is at the heart of their management processes at all levels!

The A3 document or report is a visual way of communicating a problem-solving thinking and learning process on one page. When used within an organisation it involves continual dialogue between the owner of an issue, their manager and others in an organisation. In my coaching I replace the manager.

It is important to stress that in my use of the A3 process I do not act as a manager might be tempted to. My relationship to my client is strictly in line with my solutions-focused coaching methodology.

What the A3 process does is to enable and encourage learning through scientific thinking. This means it is evidence-based through measurement, observation or direct experience. I use the Study-Act-Plan-Do (SAPDo) learning cycle to guide the thinking and learning process.

SAPDo Learning and Improvement Cycle

SAPDo Learning and Improvement Cycle

The left-hand side of the A3 report answers the question, ‘What’s happening?' In other words it is about 'Study’. The right-hand side deals with making decisions (Act), developing a ‘Plan’ and following that up with implementation and operating the revised process or situation.

In summary my coaching method


  • Involves keeping an open mind and careful observation, the latter including measurement

  • Uses these to understand root causes

  • Based on those proposes countermeasures and plans for implementation

  • Monitors of progress dealing with the issue

  • The A3 report provides a visual means to share the problem story in about 5 minutes, which helps with obtaining approvals, if required, and with engagement of those affected by any changes

•Reporting bad news including honestly admitting mistakes and learning from them

“Never … forget: the A3 is not the point.

•The point is the science.

•The PDCA [ed-SAPDo].

•The problem solving.

•And the improvement and the learning.

Adapted from: John Shook https://www.lean.org/LeanPost/Posting.cfm?LeanPostId=616


Talk to me about how my coaching can help you through your challenges by clicking the button below