Now that’s a Bright Idea… Edison-esque Insight Generation with Kata Coaching + Havening Techniques

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Kata coaching refers to a specific coaching methodology based on the concept of kata, which originated in Japanese martial arts. In this context, “kata” refers to a structured practice or routine that is repeated over and over to develop mastery in a particular skill or skillset.

Kata coaching has been adapted and applied to various fields outside of martial arts, such as sports, business, and personal development. It involves breaking down complex tasks or goals into smaller, more manageable components and then practicing them repeatedly to build competence and proficiency. It’s especially helpful when there is no clear solution. I had the pleasure of hearing Tilo Schwartz speak about the new book he co-authored with Jeffrey K. Liker (Giving Wings to Her Team ). At the start of the talk, he told an anecdotal story about a bunch of beavers realizing that their river is running dry. The Chief Beaver Officer (CBO) tells the beavers to keep building dams. That’s not working. The CBO tells the beavers to build dams higher and make them waterproof. That’s not going to work either. That’s where kata coaching comes in. It’s using a scientific method to solving a problem that has never been solved before. (It can also be used to develop skills such as leadership, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork.)

The key principles of kata coaching include:

  1. Clear Purpose: Each kata has a clear purpose or objective, defining what is to be achieved through the practice. It provides focus and direction to the coaching process.
  2. Structured Practice: The practice is broken down into specific steps or sequences, which are performed repeatedly. These steps are designed to build muscle memory, improve technique, and enhance overall performance.
  3. Continuous Improvement: Kata coaching emphasizes the concept of continuous improvement. After each practice session, reflection and feedback are encouraged to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.
  4. Coaching Relationship: The coach plays a crucial role in kata coaching by providing guidance, feedback, and support throughout the process. The coach helps the individual or team to refine their skills, overcome challenges, and achieve their goals.

Kata coaching promotes a structured and disciplined approach to learning and improvement, allowing individuals and teams to make incremental progress towards their desired outcomes.

The Five Coaching Kata Questions

Mike Rother’s Five Coaching Kata Questions are an integral part of the Toyota Kata approach to coaching conversations. These questions are specifically designed to foster dialogue, problem-solving, and improvement within an organization. Here are the questions:

(1) What is the target condition?

  • This question prompts individuals or teams to clearly articulate the desired future state or outcome they aim to achieve. It establishes a specific and measurable goal to work towards.

(2) What is the actual condition now?

  • This question encourages individuals to objectively assess and describe the current state or situation. It helps to establish a baseline understanding of the existing conditions and identify any gaps or areas that need improvement.

(3) What obstacles do you think are preventing you from reaching the target condition? Which one are you addressing now?

  • Here, individuals are prompted to identify and analyze the obstacles or challenges that hinder progress towards the target condition. By prioritizing and addressing one obstacle at a time, they can focus on making meaningful improvements.

(4) What is your next step? What do you expect?

  • This question prompts individuals to determine the specific action steps they will take to address the identified obstacle. It encourages them to think proactively and make a plan of action. Additionally, they are asked to clarify their expectations or predictions about the outcomes of their actions.

(5) When can we go and see what we have learned from taking that step?

  • This final question emphasizes the importance of reflection and learning from the implemented action step. It sets a time frame for reviewing the results and provides an opportunity to gather insights, adjust the approach, and make further improvements based on the learnings.

These Five Coaching Kata Questions form a structured framework for coaching conversations, promoting a scientific and iterative approach to problem-solving and improvement. They help guide individuals or teams through a process of setting goals, assessing current conditions, identifying obstacles, taking action, and reflecting on the outcomes to drive continuous improvement.

Using Havening Techniques®  to Enhance Kata Coaching

AI generated image- imagining Thomas Edison applying Havening Touch® 

Here’s how you might integrate Havening Touch®  into the 5 Coaching Kata Questions:

(1) What is the target condition?

  • Before discussing the target condition, individuals can use Havening Touch®  (HT) to promote delta brain waves, “happy biochemicals,” and help get your coachee to polyvagal GREEN. Depending on the specific context, several protocols may be incorporated.

    Is the coachee’s distress level high? We have HT protocols for that. (Too much to get into here.)

    We can also start the session with lofty questions combined with havening, for example: Why am I so good at finding solutions? Why am I so innovative?

(2) What is the actual condition now?

  • Individuals can reflect on the actual condition while incorporating moments of Havening Touch®. This facilitates a more objective assessment of the current state and helps individuals to identify areas for improvement without being overwhelmed by negative emotions.

(3) What obstacles do you think are preventing you from reaching the target condition? Which one are you addressing now?

  • During the discussion of obstacles, individuals can use Havening Touch®  as a technique to tend to their SUDs score if it spikes, where SUDs = subjective units of distress. If they encounter frustration or overwhelm when discussing obstacles, they can utilize self-soothing touch to bring their SUDs back down. By integrating Havening Touch® , they can approach the discussion with a greater sense of calmness and focus, facilitating a more constructive exploration of obstacles. The coach (certified Havening Techniques practitioner) can also pivot to another protocol as applicable.

(4) What is your next step? What do you expect?

  • This step right here is why I had the idea to incorporate HT into kata coaching. It was more about my fascination with brain waves than anything else. As the story about Thomas Edison goes: Edison would sit in a comfortable chair while holding a handful of metal ball bearings. He positioned a metal pie plate on the floor directly below his hand. As he relaxed and started to drift off to sleep, his hand would naturally relax, and the ball bearings would fall into the pie plate, creating a clattering sound. The noise would wake Edison, who believed that the transition between wakefulness and sleep would generate a flow of ideas or insights.

    He was purposefully tapping into an altered state — meaning, dropping into a different brain wave pattern. Given that Edison’s technique involved a state of semi-consciousness between wakefulness and sleep, it is plausible that he may have experienced a mix of alpha, theta, and potentially even delta brain waves during this relaxed state. These brain wave patterns are commonly associated with creativity, insights, and the integration of information from the subconscious mind.

    Coachees often struggle here. Get mad. Whine. Tell you that you are wasting their life. Stressing out closes off possibility, creativity and problem-solving for them. It’s not a walk in the park for you, the coach, either.

    Havening Techiques®  can be applied to reduce distress. We can also use HT to create possibilities. I love adding in Tony Burgess’s “It’s easier than I think because….”

    Though…. You can just soak in the silence and haven.

(5) When can we go and see what we have learned from taking that step?

  • During the discussion of reviewing the implemented action step, individuals can integrate Havening Touch for reflection and integration This allows them to gather insights, adjust their approach, and make further improvements based on the learnings gained from taking that step.

By incorporating Havening Touch®  into the Five Coaching Kata Questions, individuals can regulate their emotions, enhance focus, tap into insight in an Edison-esque way, and promote a more productive and centered coaching conversation. It helps create a supportive environment for growth and learning, allowing individuals to effectively navigate the coaching process while managing their emotional states.

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