This is for all the friends and family who when I say I’m an Innovation Coach, just look at me blankly and say, “But what is it that you actually do all day?”
I’m normally downstairs around 7.30am making breakfast and packed lunches for the teenagers; trying to make sure they get out the door on time whilst trying hard NOT to look like I’m trying to get them out the door on time. I did think we would be past the “Have you seen my PE kit / Blazer / Protractor, Mum?” stage by now. But just occasionally, when I get a hug and a kiss as they and their mates barrel out the door, it all seems worth it.
Now I don’t want to go all Mark Wahlberg on you, but my days really do start outside with an online workout followed by a smoothie. This is a lock down habit that’s stuck. Before, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do an online workout, never mind being in their garden.
Starting the Work
When I get to my desk, I always start by checking out the trinity of LinkedIn, Twitter and BBC Sport. Then emails, always in that order. I’ve been trying to work on my LinkedIn profile lately and this seems to take up more of my time than I ever thought it would. This is probably because I agonise about the content of every post and comment.
I run my day on handwritten lists, normally split into work and home tasks. I spend the bulk of my time on work tasks then break it up with by random tasks such as booking in my car for an MOT or the cat at the vets.
As I’ve said, I’m a morning person and I know this is the time when I’m most creative so if I have a workshop or training session to design or a blog to write, this is the time when I do it. Designing takes a lot of my time. After I’ve planned the content for a workshop, I’ll start to design the accompanying PowerPoint and Miro Boards. Then, I’ll then draft a detailed plan for the event which has become even more important when delivering online content. I spend a lot of time practicing before an event. I don’t practice what I’m going to say as I like this to be natural, but I do practice the tech. I want to make sure I can transition from PowerPoint to virtual whiteboards to showing videos seamlessly.
I’ve become a little obsessed about my 11.00am coffee break as our best lockdown purchase was an all singing and dancing espresso coffee machine.
I start my calls late morning; this can be with clients checking in on projects or recently I’ve been trying to extend my network by having short calls with new people that I’ve met on LinkedIn. This isn’t about selling; I’ve just missed the energy you get from meeting new people and I’m always curious about what people do for a living. So please hit me up on LinkedIn if you fancy a chat.
What’s for Lunch?
Lunch is a sit-down with my partner; it’s pretty much always soup and a yoghurt and that’s the way we like it. I’ll then try to get out for a walk across the fields, usually with a podcast. My latest favourite is ‘The Diary of a CEO’ with Steven Bartlett, but it could just as likely be ‘Tailenders’, a loosely based cricket podcast.
Afternoons are usually spent on activities which require less creative energy. This might be pulling together a proposal for a client or even working on my accounts. The last part of my day I reserve for learning something, by watching a YouTube video or joining a webinar. Full disclosure, this doesn’t happen as often as it should. At about 4.00pm various teenagers start arriving home and I often pretend to work as they lay on the spare bed in my ‘office’ and download their day to me. If you parent teenagers you’ll know it’s all about being present and available whilst looking like you aren’t …
Hold on! Rewind a bit….
I’m quite conscious this blog is about ‘A Day in the Life of an Innovation Coach’ and no coaching has taken place. Everything so far in this blog is what happens on a non-coaching, non-training day. If it’s a coaching/training day, then my day is completely different…
Depending what time zone I’m working in, my Mark Wahlberg start to the day usually gets forgotten and I can be sat at my desk watching the sun come up.
Starting the Work
Could be…Innovation Team Coaching
Before the pandemic, I used to spend one full day a week face-to-face with an innovation team coaching them through a six-to-eight-week sprint cycle. This has now been replaced by a day of 3 x 90-minute sessions on Zoom with minimum PowerPoint and lots of chat and interaction on Miro.
The first session of the day is usually spent reviewing what we learnt this week. We could be reviewing discovery interviews or the results from digital experiments. The second session is spent with me upskilling the team on the next part of the process; we could be practicing using a new tool like the business model canvas or discussing what make as great pitch. The third session is spent planning the work for the following week and working out who is going to do what.
Or…Individual Innovation Coaching
I work a lot with Senior Leaders who are trying to bake innovation culture into their organisations. A typical coaching session lasts an hour, online, once a month. I love coaching individuals and always leave a significant amount of time before and after the sessions to prepare and to follow up. I often promises to open up areas of my network or share an article or podcast so I try to do that immediately after the session. I’ll always try to stack my individual coaching sessions into one day; I find I work much better when I’m in the ‘coaching zone’ and not jumping around from one thing to another as this interrupts my thinking and processing.
Sometimes, it’s…Innovation Training
I design and deliver bespoke, impactful training workshops, for example ‘Design Thinking’, ‘Lean Start-Up’ or ‘Customer Discovery’. I usually deliver training to teams within one organisation but recently I’ve been experimenting with running open training sessions that anyone can register for and attend. Check it out here
An Innovation Training Day runs similar to the Team Coaching Day, i.e. 3 x 90-minute sessions on Zoom. I have regular breaks and an hour lunch scheduled to combat Zoom Fatigue. I like to stay in the zone and I will try to stay off email and the dreaded LinkedIn during the breaks.
I’m pretty good at turning off my laptop and walking downstairs at about 5.00pm. My goal is to get everyone around the dinner table for an evening meal. But with sporting commitments, part-time jobs and teenage socialising this does seem to become more and more difficult.
An hour’s TV about 9pm; current faves are Ozark and Billions but often it’s a dreadful murder mystery and then I’m to bed.
I love running my own business and the flexibility that gives me. There is no such thing as a typical day, although things have started to feel a bit like Groundhog Day over the last couple of years. I’m looking forward to getting out and about as things start to open up.
I’m also so grateful for the flexibility that allows me to run a forgotten lunchbox or PE Kit to school, I just wish it wasn’t every week…