Monday Morning Edge (01/25/2021): *Actually* Getting Better at Coaching & Maximizing Organizational Creativity

Current mood:

The best thing about being a Wisconsin sports fan is that all of our teams are good enough that their playoff losses break your heart. Ughhhhhhhh.

Looks like I need to adopt the motto of my grandpa, a lifelong Cubs fan: “Wait ’til next year”

Or something like that.

Anyhoo, what do you say we get this thing rolling?

📈 [New Article] – How to *Actually* Get Better at Coaching

In my thoughts and conversations about coaching, something’s become apparent to me: the typical coaching “path” isn’t set up to help coaches actually get better at coaching.

The way I see it, coaches (particularly young coaches) don’t spend nearly enough time actually coaching.

Instead of spending time in deliberate practice, coaches spend the majority of their days recruiting, fundraising, shuffling emails, and doing anything but what they need.

This is all part of my larger theory that we drastically underestimate the difficulty of transitioning from athlete to coach, but that’s a topic for another day.

Make sure you check out the full article over on my website, which you can read right here.

📥 Creativity in Management by John Cleese

One common theme that seems to come up again and again about creativity is that at its core, creativity is basically a Venn diagram: using lessons from one field in another field in different ways that are unique to that context.

I really enjoyed this speech transcript (the speech can be watched over on YouTube if you like that kind of thing) talking about how to make sure you’re not stifling creativity in your organization.

According to John Cleese, there are two basic modes that people are in at work: open and closed.

He describes the closed mode like this:

By the “closed mode” I mean the mode that we are in most of the time when at work. 
We have inside us a feeling that there’s lots to be done and we have to get on with it if we’re going to get through it all. 
It’s an active (probably slightly anxious) mode, although the anxiety can be exciting and pleasurable. 
It’s a mode which we’re probably a little impatient, if only with ourselves. 
It has a little tension in it, not much humor. 
It’s a mode in which we’re very purposeful, and it’s a mode in which we can get very stressed and even a bit manic, but not creative

This is contrasted by the open mode, which Cleese describes as:

Relaxed… expansive… less purposeful mode… in which we’re probably more contemplative, more inclined to humor (which always accompanies a wider perspective) and, consequently, more playful. 
It’s a mood in which curiosity for its own sake can operate because we’re not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly. We can play, and that is what allows our natural creativity to surface.

One of the best examples of the open mode comes from Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered penicillin. Cleese concludes that on the day he made his discovery, he HAD to have been in the open mode. Because “in the closed mode an uncultured dish is an irrelevance. In the open mode, it’s a clue.

Whenever I read an essay, I try to look through my coaching lens. When I put that lens on, I felt like two things really stood out to me that we can use as coaches.

First, I learned that it’s common practice in Japanese meetings to have the most junior person in the room speak first so that they can speak freely without needing to worry about contradicting something already said by someone “more important”.

We’ve all been in meeting rooms where good ideas didn’t surface because someone was nervous about how that idea would be received. I love this practice to try to bring those ideas to the surface.

Second, I was struck by the importance of what I’ll call “generative conversation”.

Cleese pointed out that when you’re in the open mode, having an intellectual sparring partner that you can toss ideas back and forth with is a HUGE catalyst for generating innovative ideas.

And when you’re in these conversations, you want to avoid saying “anything to squash them…never say ‘no’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘I don’t like that.'”

Instead, you want to constantly build on what’s being said by saying things like this:

  • “Would it be even better if…?”
  • “I don’t quite understand that, can you just explain it again?”
  • “Go on…”
  • “What if…?”
  • Let’s pretend…”

Just like we talked about last week, when you establish an environment where ideas can accelerate through each participant’s generative contribution, you start to find really special solutions.

The best part of this speech? There are even more insights to take away for the curious ones out there.

If that’s you, make sure you carve out some time this week to read the full transcript or watch the speech on YouTube.

🏆 Become an MVP

The Monday Morning Edge MVP program is an opportunity for you to go deeper into each week’s newsletter, accelerating your learning and helping you become the best coach you can be.

Some of the smartest coaches across multiple sports have already signed up…

Coaches like Eric Jagers, Assistant MLB Pitching Coach for the Cincinnati Reds.

Here’s what he had to say about becoming a newsletter MVP:

Want to be like Eric?

Let’s do this.

✌🏼 That’s all for this week. Thanks for hanging out!

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Looking forward to doing this again next week Monday at 6 AM EST.

Appreciate you starting your week here,