Coaching and Technology Expand What’s Possible:
Six takeaways from the 2022 Summit
We were thrilled to participate in the inaugural NYU Coaching and Technology Summit in NYC, where founders and CEOs of scaled coaching services and coaching tech companies shared ideas and offered a look under the hood at what they are building, delivering, and thinking about when it comes to talent development. The first of its kind, the Summit featured panel discussions among industry leaders, researchers, and representatives from companies that use scaled coaching services or platforms. The day was hosted and facilitated by the talented NYU MS in Executive Coaching & Organizational Consulting faculty, including the dynamic duo of Woody Woodward and Anna Tavis.
Here are 6 of our takeaways:
What Didn’t Surprise Us:
- Talent development is more vital to business success than ever. Companies recognize that sustainable growth requires parallel attention to people growth. And coaching, they say, is a key element. Coaching, having improved its reputation from “remedial intervention” to “sure advantage”, is now viewed as a professional essential; the investment that accelerates growth, supports mindset and behavior shifts, makes learning stick and builds learning cultures that drive success.
L&D and Talent Management execs are centralizing leadership development and looking to scale development in a way that supports the organization’s vision and goals. ROI matters and so does data that show progress. We predict that as talent management becomes a more strategic play, we’ll see larger coordinated and cascading development initiatives in companies.
- Tech is here to stay. Panelists and attendees alike agreed that company-wide talent development cannot be achieved without leveraging technology. While the creative founders in the industry agreed on this What, they each applied a different lens to the How and for Whom. From coaching that offers on-demand, self-serve benefits for all employees with no fixed timeframe, to structured mid-level manager programs for thousands, to senior level white-glove solutions, scaled coaching options are varied and plentiful.
Coaching companies differ in how they track and manage programs, deliver the client experience, and share results data. Depending on the vendor, services emphasize wellbeing, leadership, inclusion and belonging, or skill development. We heard from companies that deliver coaching services-only through an app or online platform, those that deliver tech-only to manage the coaching process, and a few, like us, that sell both services and product. AI applications play at every level.
What was clear to us is that consumers of coaching technology are in the driver’s seat. They have choice, which they should exercise with purpose, intention – and lots of questions. We also liked one exec’s prediction that as the tech-enabled coaching industry continues to evolve, the distinctions among coaching industry vendors will become sharper.
- Tech is for coaches too. As demand increases, becoming more strategic and multi-level, coaches must adopt new strategies to deliver larger projects. They need videoconferencing, scheduling apps, and technology to support program delivery to many while keeping the integrity and confidentiality of the work. Savvy coaches are now licensing technology that keeps them on track, offers data dashboards, includes coaching resources, and helps them grow their business. Supportive AI can even deliver coaches feedback to hone their coaching skills! We’re excited to have a part in the evolution of coaching and expect that coaches will increasingly select solutions that fit seamlessly into their work and elevate their business.
What Did Surprise Us:
- Tech and Coaching share a vision. Despite the tech industry’s reputation of being focused solely on dizzying growth and quick exits, we experienced our fellow coaching tech entrepreneurs as open and authentic as they discussed expanding the reach of coaching to develop inclusive and capable leaders across the globe. Panelists shared bold perspectives about how to make a difference in the lives of people, debated the merits of AI in coaching and fretted over bias and access. They talked about honoring the coaching profession and taking care of coaches. Sure, we’re all here to build and run successful businesses, but the spirit of generosity was broadly on display.
- Data is center stage, and ROI is the burning question. Data was on everyone’s lips. We love it, our customers want it, and no one has yet to gather and package it in a way that unequivocally demonstrates the value of coaching. One exec hopes for the day that coaching doesn’t need to prove its efficacy. Others demurred, preferring to stay focused on opening the black box. While others inquired into the portability of the data and its ownership. We can’t wait for the research reports that several companies mentioned are in progress!
- The EEOC is watching. Make no mistake, the government is watching this industry – and partnering with the ICF to ensure that coaching innovations and offerings do not result in discrimination. Vendors must develop tech without bias and organizations, too, should watch out for potential bias when selecting participants for coaching and vetting instruments for talent development.
All in all, it was an inspiring day of learning, sharing and “geeking” out over tech and data. We are already looking forward to next year’s Summit!