Human-Centered Design for Coaches

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I would like to believe that all challenges can be solved, although it may take time and endurance. This idea gives me comfort to step in the future with courage and the right mindset to handle even the most complex situations.

Embracing Human-Centred Design (HCD) means believing that people who face challenges are the ones who hold the key to the answers. HCD offers a way to speak to your inner problem-solver and encourages creative confidence to come up with solutions.

Being a coach or therapist, means facilitating the process of coming up with new solutions that are rooted in the needs of the people you serve, by tapping into their (inner) strengths and environment.

Before I dive into how to apply it for your coaching business, let me first explain a bit more about what Human-Centred Design is and how I learned about it.

A little history of Human-Centred Design

The term “Human-Centred Design” was originally used by IDEO, an agency / organisation that helps companies to solve challenges regarding creation of products or services by using design and creativity. In 2009, they launched the HCD Toolkit via their non-profit organisation, ideo.org, to empower social enterprises.

The methodologies and tools of HCD were widely adopted by the corporate world, small companies and consultants. Design-Thinking and service design are also popular terms to describe the process and way of thinking.

Steve Poelmans

I learned about HCD and Design-Thinking when I was in a start-up incubator & business program. I was working on a (mental-)healthcare start-up project for children and young adults. I applied the methods to get insights into the worldview of my customers and to design and co-create a product that was solving a real challenge.

I instantly fell in love with this methodology and mindset of HCD. I even considered pivoting my career to start working as a freelance service-designer. It’s so empowering how design-thinking helps to focus on possibilities rather than difficulties.

Although there are now many variants of HCD, I will explain it using the IDEO terminology.
There are three stages in the design process: inspiration, ideation, and implementation.

Mostly, when designing a service, the different stages are iterated multiple times.

The process starts with crafting a design challenge that outlines the scope of the project. The design challenge is mostly triggered by a sense of urgency to change something in a specific context. Either create something new or improve it.

For coaches and mentors, the design challenge is what your client requires, within your domain of knowledge and zone of genius.

Inspiration: Immersing Into the World of Your Target Audience

In the ideation phase, you immerse yourself into the world of your target audience. The focus is understanding how they experience the world: How do they live? What are their needs and challenges? What do they think? Why are they thinking that way? And so on.

In this phase, we must also identify the different actors (people, communities, organisations, …) who are likely to participate. New actors may pop-up during the research.

In the world of coaching and mentorship, it’s about developing a holistic view about the client’s life and identifying aspects that are important for the coach to target.

The researcher observes and interacts by having an open mind. The goal is to understand without influencing or thinking about solutions. The researcher is challenged to look in an objective way, not biased by their own beliefs or experiences.

An experienced design researcher has a good understanding of human behaviour and the complexity of (social) systems.

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Common methods are conducting interviews, workshops and prototyping. The findings from these are visualised so that other people can also understand and participate in the next step. Which brings us to…

Ideation: Strategies To Solve The Challenge

The next phase is about thinking, brainstorming and discussing all the different solutions. By co-working and/or interacting with your target audience, you can select solutions that are best suited to the design challenge.

In this phase the service designer can conduct workshops and use creativity to come up with solutions. By working closely with the target audience and different actors, the solutions are rooted in the needs and expectations of the target audience.

Mostly there is also a plan of testing out or experimenting with the different solutions to check what kind of solution is best fitted.

As coach or mentor, ideation is like having a plan to help the client further. A plan that is adapted to the needs of the client.

Implementation: Experiencing the Impact Of The Solutions

In the next phase, solutions are being implemented. Solutions are tested in the environment and with the target audience, in the way they are meant to be used. Depending on the status of the project, solutions can be prototypes or actual products or services.

Rapid prototyping can be used to test early in the project stage. Think about the easiest way of testing the solution with the target audience. For instance, even a powerpoint presentation can be a prototype for learning.

Although products and services can continuously improve, the project ends when the solution solves all the criteria of the design challenge. When this is not the case, then you can start over with the inspiration phase.

 

By doing iterations over the different phases, the solution is being incrementally improved over time.

As coach or mentor, implementation can be doing something with the client or for the client. Like setting a transformation in motion and helping to be accountable for taking action.

Human-Centred Design as Coach or Mentor

Although HCD was born and mostly conducted in the corporate world to create new products or services, the methodology can also be used as a coach in your coaching business.

Most coaches or mentors are empathic and have a good understanding about their clients and their day-to-day environments such as work and family situations. When they look with an open mind, co-create with their clients and put them in action mode, they are already using HCD!

In the inspiration phase, collect information about your client and about his or her worldview. In the ideation phase, work with the client on a solution. In the implementation phase, depending on your services, you can either hold your client accountable or just go ahead and do things for your client in a consulting capacity.

Your coaching program will create a big impact when your solution solves a specific challenge, for a well-defined target audience. When it scratches a real itch with your client and when it is adapted to the needs of your clients, you will be a Rockstar coach/mentor/consultant!

I did not pivot as a service-designer freelancer for corporates. Instead, I followed my heart and I now use HCD methods in my signature system to help entrepreneurs like coaches and experts create their heart-centred coaching program.

If you need help with designing your online coaching program, then you can contact me here.

Steven Poelmans

Steven Poelmans

Steven Poelmans has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs and companies to build scalable products and grow meaningful businesses. He decided to restart his career and founded The Freedom Story Academy to support impact-making coaches and entrepreneurs worldwide to rewrite the way they work, live, and breathe and help them to structure and launch online services.

https://freedomstoryacademy.com/

Steven Poelmans

Steven Poelmans

Steven Poelmans has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs and companies to build scalable products and grow meaningful businesses. He decided to restart his career and founded The Freedom Story Academy to support impact-making coaches and entrepreneurs worldwide to rewrite the way they work, live, and breathe and help them to structure and launch online services.

https://freedomstoryacademy.com/

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