From the President

by Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC

The IAC: A Learning Organization

Through his book The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge helped to popularize and clarify one of the most prominent management concepts of the 1990s: "the learning organization." Adding rigor to what otherwise might have become a passing fad, Senge identified five (hence the name of his book) "component technologies" that identify a learning organization:

  • Systems Thinking. Understanding the interconnectedness of everything, learning organizations focus on patterns rather than isolated parts of the system.
  • Personal Mastery. Understanding that organizations are made up of people, learning organizations focus on growing the commitment and capacity of their members.
  • Mental Models. Understanding the hidden nature of assumptions, generalizations and beliefs, learning organizations bring them out into the open.
  • Shared Vision. Understanding the power of vision to beckon people forward, learning organizations develop shared visions of future possibility.
  • Team Learning. Understanding that many heads are better than one, learning organizations facilitate dialogue to align and develop their understandings and efforts.

If those five components sound strikingly familiar to you, then perhaps that’s because you are an active part of the International Association of Coaching. If the IAC is anything, we are a "learning organization." The five components characterize the IAC in so many respects, including how we go about our work as an organization and how we understand the work of coaching itself. It is all about systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, and team learning.

Right now we are coming down the homestretch of our long-range planning process. We expect a final version of the plan to be approved at our Board of Governors meeting on April 12-13. I have been so impressed by the process we have followed, reaching out to every imaginable stakeholder in the organization. We have truly sought out the wisdom of the whole, an orientation I see reflected in both the process as well as the end product.

Much credit goes to our leadership team: Angela Spaxman, Joan Marie Johnson, Yoram Gordon and Aileen Gibb. They have carried the load and served us well. Our facilitator, Dave Ellis, was also instrumental in keeping us focused on the learning side of the equation. His constant reminder to think about our decisions in terms of their impact on seven generations expanded our thinking, broadened our vision and heightened our sense of responsibility. The IAC does not work for itself; we work for the good of our clients, our profession and, indeed, the world.

To that end, we are emerging from our planning process with some truly revolutionary insights and approaches when it comes to coach certification, training, mentoring and development. Instead of prescribing a standardized, one-size-fits-all process, we will be inviting coaches to define their own ongoing commitments for lifelong learning. Similar to the way Ben and Roz Zander write about the practice of "Giving an A" in their book The Art of Possibility, the IAC is looking to define a way for coaches and licensees to both unleash their inner genius and to hold themselves accountable to the highest standards of coaching mastery. Although we still have a lot of work to do before that process is fully defined and implemented, we are clearly seeking to evoke freedom and responsibility in all that we do.

The IAC is a learning organization with a learning mission when it comes to coaching and how we serve the world. We aim to make personalized learning the hallmark of coach certification, training, mentoring and development. We want to shift away from "Pass/Fail" to "Work in Progress" understandings, and strengths-based ones at that. The journey never ends and I, for one, am pleased that the IAC is working to celebrate and embody that understanding more fully in all that we do.

If this direction and approach sound exciting to you, then I would love for you to get more involved with the IAC and to join the conversation. I truly believe that the IAC has caught hold of a vision that will serve coaches, our organization and the world in ever-more-spectacular ways as time goes on. To make that happen, I invite you to join or to renew your membership today. "Yes we can!" is not just a phrase for politicians; together in the IAC, we can do much for coaching mastery.

May you be filled with goodness, peace and joy,


Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC, is President of LifeTrek Coaching International. Together with this wife, Megan, Bob has written a new book titled Evocative Coaching (Jossey-Bass, July 2010), which incorporates the IAC Coaching Masteries® in a coaching model designed for leaders and coaches in K-12 schools.

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