Team Coaching – Launching a Fresh Approach for Our Time

As organisations build momentum towards some form of return to a physical working environment, the spotlight logically falls on teams and teamwork.  What will team work look like given that some team members may opt to work from home whilst still needing to work productively and collaboratively with their colleagues who have chosen to work in the office?  How will chance opportunities to collaborate, connect and create ideas happen?  How can teams capitalise on improving working relationships from a work and social perspective?  So many questions and yet so many potential opportunities to power up teamwork now and into the future.

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Team Coaching: What’s in a name?

In our last blog we introduced the idea of our Team Coaching model, based on design thinking principles that we have called DESIGN coaching.  In this next blog we want to examine the differences between Team Development, Team Building, Team Facilitation and Team Coaching.

When we started exploring the world of team coaching, we were confused.  We could see so many synergies amongst these team interventions and at first felt was it just a matter of semantics over what the intervention was called.  But we felt we had to stay true and authentic to our coaching roots particularly as when we are working in the coaching education arena, we take great care to help our students be clear about differences between coaching and mentoring or training or counselling or consulting or therapy.  So, it reminded us that we need to be clear about the differences between these various team interventions available to help teams work through issues about effectiveness, performance and productivity.

We experienced a few ‘false starts’ in our quest to understand these differences and heard different accounts ranging from – ‘team coaching is not intervening in any way and letting the team work it out for themselves’ end of the continuum to ‘you observe the team in action and then provide them with your views and action plan on what they need to work on’ end of the continuum.

Neither of these views resonated well with us so we turned to the ICF team coaching competencies and found them helpful, particularly as they compare and contrast the different interventions or modalities and assess them against criteria such timeframe, process, growth area, team dynamics, expert/ownership.  Here is the link to the ICF team coaching competencies:

Our DESIGN coaching model aligns with the ICF view of team coaching except for the timeframe.  We presume our timeframe to be shorter but are open to the needs of the team and would rather be guided by their needs and perspective.

In design thinking terms we are at the prototyping and testing stage of our model and will have more to say in future blogs on how the model is being applied in the real world of team coaching.  We would love to hear your experiences good / bad / ugly about team coaching and what specific challenges or opportunities you are currently facing.

Please feel free to get in touch to continue the conversation



Coaching by DESIGN A more creative approach to coaching?

Photo by Joyce Adams on Unsplash

Recently I listened to a webinar by McKinsey in which they shared their recent research into ‘Building Workforce Skills at Scale to Thrive During and After the Covid 19 Crisis’₁. A key message was the need for capability building and investment in talent on an unprecedented scale to move forward successfully in the new world. According to McKinsey, key skills needed include advanced cognitive skills and critical thinking. A range of strategies were identified to achieve this reskilling including ‘fast coaching’. These elements very much reflect our newly emerging approach to coaching.   Over the past year we have been designing, testing and promoting what we call DESIGN Coaching. Early results from our testing phase suggest that not only can DESIGN Coaching help to support the development of these skills, it is also a more flexible process with the potential to deliver tangible results within a less protracted timescale than some more traditional coaching approaches.


At Level 7 we know from our experience as practising coaches and our work in educating and training new coaches that there are core skills, models and philosophies that most coaches seek to adopt as a basis for their coaching careers. Whilst we appreciate the value of an eclectic approach as coaches mature in their practice, at the heart of coaching for many still remain core elements – e.g. robust and powerful questions and an underpinning model. As we observe the world emerging from Covid, we believe that there is value in adopting a less prescriptive but nevertheless robust coaching approach. An approach that is more flexible, in tune with a less predictable and structured working world and ultimately an approach that encourages and supports creative thinking.


As passionate advocates of both coaching and design thinking, it was only natural for us to look to these fields for our solution. So we decided to synthesise the principles of design thinking and coaching into an integrated process that at the same time encourages discovery and fun. If we can grow awareness, develop intuition and enhance creativity then we can ultimately help create change and transformation for individuals and also for those around them.  We believe that our DESIGN Coaching approach can achieve richer data collection, deeper insighting, and energise experimentation to address client and organisation coaching challenges.


Look out for our next blog in which we will explain the key elements of DESIGN coaching. Our testing phase is ongoing, so if you’d like to be part of it just drop us a line at

Level Seven Live – Design Thinking and Team Coaching Overview

An overview of our conceptual model that underpins team coaching with a design thinking approach. We believe this provides a more systemic way of delivering the benefits of team coaching to organisations in the current Covid world. We’ll be explaining each stage of our model over the next few weeks of vlogs.

Level Seven Live – Reconnecting

Gill and Dorothy launch a series of conversations about linking design thinking and team coaching for a collaborative and inclusive post Covid culture.

Further Thoughts to Support Innovation – Nurturing a Design Thinking Mindset: Inspiration


In March 2018 I wrote a blog on the 7 thoughts to support innovation, click here for the full article with a slight, tongue-in-cheek nod to and attributed to the famous 5-boys chocolate advertisement of the early 1900’s


Design Thinking is a problem-solving process aimed at solving ill-defined, wicked problems, problems that have many possible solutions.  Design thinking offers a structured approach to thinking and action and facilitates logical, creative and innovative thinking.  Lately it has occurred to me that to be an effective problem-solving and embrace the process of design thinking is not enough, we need to approach our problem-solving activities with a particular frame of mind, something that I am calling a Design Thinking Mindset.


I thought it might be useful to revisit the seven thoughts to support innovation and reflect on whether they are still relevant and in particular do they offer any insight into how to go about developing a design thinking mindset.  In this blog I will revisit the first thought – Inspiration.  I suggested that inspiration is connected to being able to trust your intuition and intuition is inextricably linked to imagination.   The quote I used to exemplify this was:

 ‘Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will get you everywhere.’ Albert Einstein

Inspiration arguably runs through any aspect of the design thinking process.  As a facilitator of design thinking I might need to inspire the people I am working with to help them to get onboard with the process or idea of the moment.  Then there may be times when I need to look deep within myself and tap into my internal reservoir in order to inspire my own creative capacity.

My view why I think design thinkers need to show and to cultivate the capacity to inspire is that the wicked problems are described as ill-defined and ambiguous and they often exist within uncertain conditions; inspiration may be something that can provide a degree of certainty to the people and to the problem itself.  Something worth reflecting on further.

My suggestion to develop your inspirational qualities is to cultivate your intuition, know it, acknowledge it, listen to it (it may not always be right!) and be courageous to act on it.

Dr Gill Stevens