How to measure coaching conditions – The “Agile” Shipping Forecast

The Shipping Forecast is a BBC Radio broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles. In October 1859, the steam clipper Royal Charter was wrecked in a strong storm off Anglesey; 450 people lost their lives. Due to this loss, Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy introduced a warning service for shipping in February 1861, using telegraph communications.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a similar shipping forecast for agile coaches? A way to assess the conditions we are going to face to enable better coaching decisions. Are the seas going to be rough or smooth? Will the ship sink or swim?

The Shipping Forecast assesses 4 conditions; wind direction, strength, precipitation and visibility.

What would be the conditions of a “agile” Shipping Forecast?

I have identified 5 conditions:

Item Description Why
Shared Why There is a problem statement all involved agree with and are passionate about. With no clear problem definition, people are unlikely change. It is likely people will ask “why are we doing this”
Capacity Change takes time and emotional energy. All those involved need to the time and space to change. This often means reducing work in progress. Adding change activities on top of an already overburdened group is not sustainable. Whilst motivation may be high early on, often efforts will end in the long run.
Management Commitment There is commitment from Management within the organisation.   As high up the hierarchy as possible. This commitment translates into direct action with demonstrable leadership. Not cheerleading from the sidelines. Lack of management buy is citied by many as a primary reason for change failure. Demonstrable leadership by management will inspire change within the organisation.
Safety Phycological safety has been identified as a primary factor in the performance of teams. It is a critical factor in enabling change. Do people feel safe to voice their concerns and opinions? Or is there an atmosphere of fear? Without the right levels of Phycological safety there may be low levels of engagement in the change. There is also a risk of imposed change rather than integrated change.
Stakeholder Support Is there support from the wider community for this change. This could be sponsors, influencers of the work you are doing but not direct contributors Without support from the people around the change, they may put many roadblocks in the way. You may not need direct action from them but you’ll at least need their support.

How could I assess these 5 conditions?

I identified the key questions for each conditions and built a simple survey.

Item Measure How
Shared Why What is the purpose for this change? Ask everyone involved to write down in 100 words or less

Translate into agreement scale

Capacity My team are too busy to improve 5 – Strongly Agree

4 – Agree

3 – Neutral

2 – Disagree

1 – Strongly Disagree

Management Commitment What is the level of commitment from your direct management? 5 – Committed

4 – Supportive

3 – Undecided

2-  Unaware

1- Opposed

Safety How comfortable are you in raising issues amongst the group? 5 – No Problem, I’ll talk about anything

4 – I’ll talk about almost anything; a few things might be hard

3 – I’ll talk about some things, but others will be hard to say

2 – I’m not going to say much, I’ll let others bring up issues

1 – I’ll smile, claim everything is great and agree with managers

Stakeholder Support Our stakeholders are supportive of change 5 – Strongly Agree

4 – Agree

3 – Neutral

2 – Disagree

1 – Strongly Disagree

Each of the results are added up to give a score out of a possible 25.

  • >20: Good (Smooth Seas)
  • >10 <20: Caution (High winds)
  • < 9: Stop (Storms)

How are the results used?

At the start of a coaching engagement.

It helps identify the current conditions within the group/team. The results will help the coach create the engagement actions. For example, if the conditions suggest there is no “Shared Why” it may be a good starting point to run a vision setting session for all involved.

During a coaching engagement.

Conditions change over time so the barometer is used to regularly review. The shared why we created from that vision session a few weeks back, do we still have agreement? The barometer helps give a trend over time which provides further insights.

You can try out the “Agile” Shipping Forecast here:

Please do share any feedback and I would live to hear more about what conditions would make your shipping forecast?

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