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

Promoting Idea Generation – In Celebration of Creativity and Innovation Week – 15 April to 21 April


Back in 2010 we wrote a blog on How to help people to have good ideas.

In this article we summarised some of the key challenges that can get in the way of creative endeavour.  These challenges were identified as: the physical environment, personal attitude towards creativity and organisational culture.


In light of our more recent work and interest in the intersection of design thinking and coaching for potential, we are reminded of how enjoyable and productive creative thinking can be for those willing to spend time exercising their creative muscles.  Not only is creative thinking an integral aspect of the ideation phase of design thinking but we are also finding it is a key aspect in our coaching work to help shift a person’s perspective.  But what gets in the way of a person or team developing their creative capacity?


“If you think you can or think you can’t – you are right” – a quote attributed to Henry Ford that unfortunately reinforces how individuals often think about their creative capacity.  Sadly, many people view the capacity for creativity as polar opposites taking one of these stances – I am creative or I am not creative.   Dr Carol Dwek’s book, Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential suggests that our mindset plays a critical part in the capacity to develop, learn and grow.  She describes how people with a fixed mindset believe that innate capacity and talent is the reason people achieve a level of attainment, which they believe is inherently fixed and any judgement on their performance is viewed as detrimental.  However, those with a growth mindset believe their level of attainment is due to effort, practice and perseverance, they welcome feedback and embrace failure as part of the learning process.   The good news is that according to Dwek, mindsets can be changed.


So, to promote the benefits of developing a growth mindset and the benefits it brings to the creative process come and join us to celebrate creativity and innovation week in April 2021.  You might just learn something and have some fun too!

What kind of data?

what kind of data - online event workshop design thinking

Whichever problem-solving process you use, data plays an important role.  As we know only too well, there is a wealth of data that are willingly being shared to inform people about how decisions regarding the Coronavirus situation are being made.  But how valid are these data?  This article highlights the issue that over-reliance on technology, data and algorithms is not always helpful.


One comment from the article suggests a need for a range of data to support problem-solving and decision-making:


“Our argument is simply that this logic, and these ideas, should be dropped. Indeed, a succession of recent failures and fiascoes has only underlined the paucity of the intellectual thinking behind this agenda as well as its lack of emotional intelligence”.


Design Thinking begins with the need to collect valid and reliable data about the people who are experiencing the issue and the circumstances that they engage with the issue, hence the need for design thinkers to draw on their skills of empathy; a key element of the emotional intelligence concept.  Of course, currently it is difficult to immerse ourselves in the issues and situations of those people for whom we are trying to help but we are human beings after all and that is a good starting point.   Self and Other awareness as well as empathic imagination could also help.  However, design thinking is an inclusive, collaborative and co-creative process so with these strategies in mind any solution that is generated can be tested out in the early stages through prototypes.


Our event on 8 December creates a space for all the above to be experienced.  We are using the context of reigniting individual passion and purpose, so why not come and give it a try – you might re-discover something joyful as well as learn about design thinking?


Experiencing Design Thinking – to really know something, you need to experience it!


We’ve had some fun with our conversations and recordings about design thinking and chatting about the component parts of the process.  However, there comes a time when talking about something in a theoretical way is not enough; taking action is the next step to learning and so to help people understand the concept of design thinking, we have designed a brief introduction to the process that we will facilitate online.

As we know design thinking is a collaborative process, aimed at helping to solve real world, wicked problems that do not have one specific solution.  Also, any solution that the design thinkers propose should be able to solve the problem-owners’ pain points or enhance what works well by co-creating potential opportunities.

The context for our experiential workshop is the current Covid-19 world. From the many conversations we are having with people it is clear that they are struggling with lockdown restrictions and the impact on businesses, the workplace and home. A common theme across these environments is a loss of motivation and a struggle to live and work in purposeful ways.

We want to provide time and space for participants to focus on what is important to them and to try and reignite something of their individual passion that perhaps they took for granted, pre Covid-19 times.  Whilst we do not have answers or ready-made solutions, by experiencing how design thinking can help to address tricky problems, people may find a way to re-energise their lives in some small way for the better.

As professional coaches and facilitators, we know the value in helping people and organisations to be the best that they can be and that is why we are passionate about design thinking and the benefits it can bring to peoples’ lives.

Join us on the 8th December, 2020 from 10.00am to 12pm UK time for our taster design thinking experience.

Reigniting Passion and Purpose

Are your colleagues and peers feeling low and demotivated as a result of our Covid restricted world? Do you need to create new energy and a focus on success in these challenging times? Using design thinking methodology, this short 2-hour, experiential workshop will help you to explore creative ways of revitalising yourself and others to reconnect with their purpose and a passion to deliver/succeed.