“Transformation” – overworked perhaps, yet, nevertheless, a term with which I feel a rather powerful connection.
A few years ago, in the final stages of my twenty-seven year stint in corporate life, I was appointed to the ‘Transformation Directorate’ of the IT division of one of the world?s largest companies.
As corporates are inclined to do, with frustrating regularity, our company had embarked on a cycle of major restructuring. The IT division, suffering from post ?bubble-burst? syndrome, had been challenged to halve its annual operating costs (running at nearly $0.5bn) within a mere three years!
In a refreshing and innovative approach to cost cutting, the Directorate agreed to institute a programme of workshops aimed at helping the global staff compliment of many thousands, understand, deal with and – by designing solutions – contribute to the challenge
The workshops were unlike any I had experienced before.
The conventional approach was only too familiar? A few large ‘town hall’ style meetings with designated senior executives addressing fearful audiences of hundreds of staff to inform them, with the bare minimum of detail, of the need for job cuts, and to plead for co-operation while the process – with its top-down design – was set in motion.
This, however, was very different. Staff were encouraged to gather in work teams – small groups of no more than twenty at a time, with trained coaches facilitating discussions. These ‘transformation coaches’ allowed time and space for letting off steam, then offered up simple models of change and practical tools and advice for dealing with it, both in the workspace and the personal capacity.
The words “opportunity” and “possibility” were frequently and repeatedly used. Creative juices were stimulated by relaxing boundaries and staff were given the headroom to put forward their own blueprints for the future ‘half-cost’ environment. The results were quite astounding.
A plethora of practical strategies for sustainably reducing costs were devised, so effective that that the need for job reductions was rendered minimal. Even then, the ?victims? were restricted to those who had seen the opportunity in volunteering to leave. Target cost reductions were successfully achieved in just 30 months.
I didn?t appreciate it at the time but it?s clear to me now that the astute use of personal and group coaching methods was the catalyst for a hugely successful transformation.
As I reflect back on that experience – and relate it to the life coaching industry, of which I am now proudly part, I believe the key to transformation lies in gradually shifting people’s focus?
?From the axis of resistance and worst fears, fuelled by limiting beliefs, to the axis of opportunity, fuelled by creative thought (and self confidence derived from past achievements) and ultimately, to the axis of commitment to a new future, fuelled by the desire to change.
Coaching is so much more than a service. Coaching is the power to transform lives.