Coach-Based Consulting: An Integrative Approach

Want to be more successful as a coach and/or consultant? Want to produce a more significant and sustained impact with your clients? Want to command a more diverse set of strategies and tools of your trade? Want to have a better understanding of the nature


‍The Invitation

Welcome to a new era in the facilitation of personal and organizational transitions and transformations While the field of organizational development and consultation has been widely engaged for the past seven decades and there are now many professional coaching practices that are deployed in either a personal or organizational settings, there has never been an effective integration of these two fields. Distinctions have been made between consulting and coaching, but the strengths inherent in these two fields have not until now been interwoven as a set of concepts, strategies and tactics that are systems-based, multi-tiered, appreciative, inter-disciplinary and multi-culturally sensitive.



Coaching [defined as a developmental one-to one conversation focused on specific outcomes] has been an emergent and evolving field particularly since about 1970. Complex and dynamic, integrating the substance of many disciplines and the innovative thinking of great pioneers… it came to serve an unmet need in a world of exponential change, democratized information, and more and more distributed power, where direct instruction and authoritarian, hierarchical directives may no longer be practical – nor welcome. So people have been turning to coaches for safe conversations about their own personal and professional needs – in and outside of organizations.

On the other hand, when Organizations (vs. individuals) reached out for help, they have – since the turn of the 20th century – turned to consultants, who would provide some specialized expertise not thought to be available in-house. And because the consultants typically serve many companies, they can also share and distribute the best practices they observe.

Now, in real life coaching and consulting have the potential to leverage each other beautifully, which is why we are proposing this field of Coach-based Consulting (CBC).

It’s key characteristics are:

Systemic – multi-tiered – appreciative – multi-disciplinary – multi-cultural.



Coach based consulting is systemic (in the sense of involving both the individual and the whole): it builds on communication skills at a basic individual level and at a company level, so that conflicts can be resolved, and good decisions be made. Think of your organization: would you like to have to choose whether to improve individual OR organizational communications?

Here are links to two conceptual essays associated with the system-based approach being taken in CBC:

Behavioral, Decisional and Aspirational

The Empowerment Pyramid


Coach based consulting is Multi-tiered, (think of three concentric circles) meaning that it considers first the self in the center, then the next circle of the others (teams, colleagues, customers) and then the culture of the organization as the outer ring. That is how we have always approached Leadership Development: you grow your personal abilities first, so you can be a role model, then you have the moral authority to inspire your team and colleagues, and thus you can affect the results of the business.

Here are links to two conceptual essays associated with the multi-tiered approach being taken in CBC:

Focus on Multiple Dimensions of Problem-Solving and Group Functioning

Assessment of Self, Others, Organizational Culture


Most importantly, CBC is appreciative. You will find an appreciative perspective at the foundation of all our work, of every discussion, every practice. An appreciative approach means that as leaders, coaches and consultants, we all genuinely care to understand and value the other person, to look to build on each-others’ strengths (vs. obsessing over weaknesses), look for each other’s special genius, and leverage the differences we all bring to an organization or group, so we can build a better shared future.

Here are links to two conceptual essays associated with the appreciative approach being taken in CBC:

The Dimensions of Appreciation

The Clearness Process: Information, Intentions, Ideas


You will also hear us integrate a multitude of disciplines in our CBC work. Disciplines like neuro-biology teach us more every day about how humans operate, learn and make decisions – financial, political or personal. Whether we are PhDs or business managers, if we intend to affect other people’s lives, we have to grasp as much about adult learning, stress responses and growth as we can, across many disciplines.

Here are links to two conceptual essays associated with the interdisciplinary-based approach being taken in CBC:

Application of Biological and Neurobiological Findings

Application of the Decisional Sciences


Lastly, CBC appreciates and accounts for the diversity of cultures that human communities create, not just the obvious national cultures, but the special community each organization generates over time, even each department or group.

Here are links to two conceptual essays associated with the multicultural-based approach being taken in CBC:

The nature of organizational cultures, patterns and variations

The multiple cultures operating within organizations and societies

So all this is a way of saying that we want to put the Whole together again, and find the humanity in every interaction, no matter how pragmatic!


The Broad Rationale: Wheelbarrows and People

‍There is an old joke. It seems that an employee of a factory in a very repressive society was stopped one day by a security guard as the employee was leaving the factory. The worker was pushing a wheelbarrow full of straw. The security guard was absolutely certain that the worker was trying to smuggle something out in the straw, so he stopped the worker and carefully inspected the straw. There is nothing in the straw. He had to reluctantly allow the worker to leave the factory. Next day, the same story is played out. The worker came to the security gate with a wheelbarrow full of straw. A careful inspection ensues. Nothing was found.


This scenario was repeated many times over the following years. Careful searches, but nothing there. The security guard stopped the worker one day to tell him that he was about to be transferred to a post many miles away. He put his arm around the worker and asked in a plaintive voice, “I know that you have been stealing from this factory, but I have never been able to discover what you are stealing. I will be leaving tonight and promise to tell no one about your remarkable secret. Please, tell me what you are stealing.” The worker looked around and whispered in the security guard’s ear: “wheelbarrows!”


The humor in this story lies in the overlooking of the obvious. We search in vain for the stolen item only to discover that it is the wheelbarrow itself that is being stolen. In a similar way we are reminded: “It’s the economy, stupid!” We suddenly stop in the middle of the day and remind ourselves that our organizations are populated with people: “It’s the people, stupid!” Employees aren’t going to work hard unless they are motivated. We can’t accomplish anything without a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. People and organizations are living systems, not just machines.  These simple truths are often overlooked.


Considering all the changes occurring in contemporary societies throughout the world, it is often easy to overlook the wheelbarrow—and, in particular, the indispensable role that people play in organizations. The people-factor in organizations is particularly challenging, for several profound changes are occurring that are not easily understood or addressed. It is not only the content of the work people do in organizations that has changed; it is the structures and processes of the work that have changed in a profound and irreversible manner. It is the climate and culture of the organization that matters. It is the way in which we relate to one another in an organizational setting that is being transformed. We can handle the new technology and the new products and services being asked of our customers. What we can’t handle very well are the new organizational forms that are being created in order to contain these new technologies, products and services and take into account the new world of complexity, unpredictability and turbulence into which they are being delivered.


Wheelbarrows require at least two wheels to operate—so does effective work with those members of organizations who are facing the complexity, unpredictability and turbulence of contemporary work life. One of these wheels is organizational consultation: addressing the structural, procedural and cultural challenges of the organization using broad-based systemic strategies and tactics. There is a second wheel–that aligns with the individuals working in the organization. We must address the personal perspectives, aspirations and decision making processes of these men and women through use of appreciative coaching strategies and tactics. Both approaches are needed and they must be fully integrated. It is the wheelbarrow! It is the human factor approached from multi-tiered and multi-disciplinary initiatives! It is the integrative coach-based consultative model we are introducing in this cutting-edge advanced training program!

Coach-Based Consulting: An Integrative Approach