During his keynote address at the 1st Columbia University International Coaching Conference, Dr. Warner Burke stressed the importance of learning agility as an executive competency and the difficulty in measuring proficiency at this competency in a statistically reliable and valid way. As I sat listening to Dr. Burke’s presentation, I became aware of an irony in the dilemma he was discussing. While the absence of reliable studies and data prevent the research sought by Dr. Burke from being completed, as executive coaches, we work with our clients every day to increase their learning agility in measurable ways.
In thinking about some of our more recent coaching assignments, one of the main things that we helped out clients do was increase learning agility by starting to think differently about challenges and how to address them. In fact, one of our main concerns is always whether, after a coaching engagement concludes, the client can sustain the learning agility developed throughout the coaching engagement. To drive sustainability, we insist that developmental client scorecards continue to be completed after the conclusion of formal coaching. Our last scorecard and discussion of its implications takes place nine months after coaching for just this reason.
Even where learning agility is not a formal coaching goal, we explicitly measure it in post-coaching scorecards because of its importance. As my colleague, Richard Stanger (@RichardStanger), pointed out to Dr. Burke at the conference, we’re not sure how to help him get the data he needs, but we’re very sure that good executive coaching drives higher levels of learning agility. And, the data validates our conclusion client by client.