Analytic Network Coaching

I am a keeny, but I expect you have gathered that by now? About 18 months ago I attended a coaching research day with Simon Western (nope not Simon Weston, Simon Western!) Simon was a nurse, then worked in psychoanalysis and then in coaching. He has authored several books on coaching and leadership and during the day I became very interested in his philosophy and approach so when he advertised some training in his approach Analytic – Network coaching, I signed up straight away.

When you work for yourself, paying for a chunk of training is quite a considered thing, but there was no question about this for me.

I’ll give you a brief run down of the approach in a mo, but the two main things which attracted me to this way of coaching, were a focus on the “analytical” and the “network”, both of which, I feel are not often considered enough in coaching.  Coaching can give the impression of shying away from anything that sounds too deep, analytical or might unearth something that needs counselling/psychotherapy. I understand why and there are questions around safety of both parties, but I must stress that AN coaching is an advanced coaching training and I have always felt that OT’s that coach, are sufficiently qualified to work with the “psyche”.

The other side which I feel is so important these days is the “networked self”. Whilst we know that human beings are intrinsically embedded in a social and physical environment, modern life has taken us beyond that and into highly networked place. Social media, email, transport etc have all connected us to many more people and a broader, more complex world. Coaching which ignores the impact of our network is really missing something.

OK, nearly ready to tell you about the AN approach, but must just briefly tell you something funny. So I am sitting on the first day on the course in Bath at a lovely venue, with 20 others coaches from all over England and Singapore, Australia and Poland – mostly executive coaches working with organisations. And of course, one of them is also an OT. This always happens – I find OT’s everywhere, turning up in unexpected places, doing lots of interesting things (gotta write a blog about that!).

The philosophy/purpose of AN Coaching is “Coaching leaders to act in “good faith” to create “the good society” The approach is comprised of 5 Frames and the coaching works with the client in each frame for 1 or 2 sessions.

The first frame is the Depth frame: working with the unconscious and free association, interpretation, transference, containment and the principles of lack and desire. Peoples patterns/dissonances/in-congruence are unearthed and the coaching stance is one of discovery and development. Its not about goals but it aims to explore the self “who am I, who can I become, what do I believe and value?”

The second is the Relational frame: working on outward relationship, analyzing relational dynamics and patterns, discovering and developing an authentic relational self, learning about our relational patterns which play out in many circumstances, engaging in work relationships with clearer sense of self and purpose. It also considers the relatedness we may have to an object or place. The coaching stance draws on family and systemic approaches and looks beyond the individual and how we co-create each other.

The third frame is the Leadership Frame which works on two agendas: discovering the clients unique leader within and challenging the clients idea of what leadership is. Interestingly, this frame also works on developing “followership”.

The Network Analysis frame acknowledges that its not just us, out there! It locates us in our social and organsational networks and enables us to become more aware of our connections and the nodal points of power (points in our network where change will have a great effect). It acknowledges how much lateral power exists in the network, giving examples such as the Arab Spring – revolution powered by social media.  In this stance, the coaching ethics go beyond the individual client to acknowledge social responsibility and sustainability. The coaching asks us to rethink how organisations work and where societal  boundaries lie. Great creativity exists here!

In the last coaching frame, a Strategic Analysis takes place, which combines insights and learning from the previous frames. It invites us to Evaluate, Consolidate, Innovate (close the gaps we have found) and Hesitate (waiting before barging ahead…)

That may have sounded a bit wordy and nerdy for some of you, but working with coaching in this approach is highly powerful and addresses areas which some coaching can overlook.

I am keen to put this amazing work into practice, so if your department or organisation would benefit from an approach which supports ethical, sustainable, transformational change, please get in touch

If you are a coach and interested in the next AN training course, you can find out more here 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Jen. The opportunity for OTs to shine a light onto unseen possibilities, using extended skills they acquire to enhance their generic and foundational skill set, truly can contribute to changing the world, one Person, Environment, and Occupation at a time. (!)
    And isn’t it interesting how many OTs tend to “pop up” in places where we feel we are stretching to an ‘edge’. There are a lot of pioneers and frontier workers, although sadly many seem to gradually drop their identification as ‘OT’ as they perceive themselves to have moved beyond the bounds or scope of practice.
    I wonder how much this ‘then I left OT’ population could enrich the profession if only we could ‘capture’ their experience and role examples for others to see- and perchance, inspired thus – to follow?

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