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Coaching Commons: The Road Less Traveled


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Published: January 10, 2011 under Archived Featured Articles

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In January 2008, Andrea J. Lee wrote the first post for the Coaching Commons.

She said ”We believe there is something needed in the coaching world, something that’s been missing that this place (The Coaching Commons) will fill. Enough people believe this to be the case that there is energy, inspiration, action, and funding to make a go of it.”

Andrea Lee and David Goldsmith were architect and strategist respectively, who built and perfected the concept of the Coaching Commons. I thank them for their innovative thinking and for the courage to launch this adventure.

In that first post, Andrea expressed the vision: “The Coaching Commons is a place for the collective intelligence to emerge through radical conversations that aren’t being held elsewhere, and that are most profoundly compelling to the majority of coaches.”

New territory indeed. Non-partisan, independent, inclusive.

That’s a specialty of visionary, philanthropist and coach, Ruth Ann Harnisch. As founding funder of the Coaching Commons, The Harnisch Foundation was sole support of this coaching experiment, and Ruth Ann spared no expense to bring the creative inspiration of the Coaching Commons to life, and keep it fresh for our international coaching community.

The Coaching Commons was “the road less traveled,” and it’s been quite a trip picking up team members, volunteers, freelancers, readers and coach-friends from all over the world. The experiment has been rich with diversity of people, thoughts and ideas – collecting knowledge and wisdom and sharing with the global coaching community. 

I got to drive the bus.

A staggering 2,456 stories and 2,752 comments have been published, read and discussed. The number of thoughts expressed and thought-provoking stories gives me pause - I sincerely express my gratitude to Ruth Ann, and to all who helped create this pivotal and inspiring body of work.

All along this unpaved, unchartered road, we began adding tourist attractions and sightseeing opportunities.

First, Sandra De Freitas, our tech superhero, cleared the road and kept the Coaching Commons working like a well-oiled machine.

Then we invited Vikki Brock to set up weekly “snapshots” of coaching history.

Elizabeth Crouch and Katherine Gotshall English hosted live chats over coffee with brilliant guests creating Uncommon Conversations. And in case you weren’t able to ”stop by” in person, they recorded the calls so you could get yours “to go” and listen in later. 

Emmy-Award winning journalist Mark Joyella joined for the last half of the ride, charting his way as the first Community Supported Journalist. He brought us compelling stories, breaking news, fresh interviews and a variety of instructional, funny, and innovative videos.

We also decided coaches should have their own daily “newspaper” so they could keep up with international coaching news, and if readers didn’t have time to stop by and check the news, the Commons delivered it (via email) each day.

When coaches asked us about research, the Commons added a corner where you could stop for the latest reports and understand what new research meant to your practice, and to the advancement of the profession.

When the economy declined, many coaches faced a financial roadblock that prevented them from having their own coach. Instinctively Ruth Ann found and arranged a partnership with Kerryn Griffiths at ReciproCoach, to offer free coaching coins to Coaching Commons’ readers who posted stories or comments. These coins were redeemable for reciprocal coaching, mentoring or supervision.

The Coaching Commons widened the road by inviting freelance journalists and coaches to submit stories for publication. This added new voices with diverse viewpoints.

Last year, the Coaching Commons redesigned the entire roadmap to reflect what readers told us was most important – original stories, breaking news, open conversation and international daily coaching news. We even added a mobile app so our audience could read and participate remotely.

Today, I’m bringing the bus to a halt and bidding all my colleagues and coach-friends a fond thank you and farewell. Although we are at the end of this road less traveled, I’m hoping the inspiration from this adventure will never stop.

What a ride!

About the Author

Linda Ballew heads up the 'Breaking News' section of The Coaching Commons and is Operational Team Lead to boot. Responsible for coordinating all mentions of coaching around the world each week, Linda truly has the pulse of coaching's place in popular culture. And with 20 years of experience in the nonprofit world behind her, we rely on Linda to be our glue.

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There are 2 Responses so far...

Diane Krause-Stetson on January 11, 2011

Ruth Ann, Mark, Linda and Andrea, thank you for your vision and for your contribution to the coaching profession. I also extend my sincere appreciation to the many other contributors. And, I thank my fellow coaches and coaching organizations, who like me, rose to the occasion to pledge financial support to sustain the Coaching Commons. There will be a huge gap in the coaching conversation. I am confident that “the inspiration from this adventure will never stop.”

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Billy C H Teoh on January 26, 2011

Thank you Ruth, Linda, Mark, the thought leaders, the contributors, the commenters, the readers, and those in one way or another have made my journey on the ‘road less travelled’ so rich, profound and meaningful.

It was truly an uncommon experience.

Warmest regards and best wishes.

Billy C H Teoh

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