A challenge that’s faced by many coaches, is that of being as efficient as possible when it comes to creating programs for their clients. It’s a factor that comes up a lot in conversations I have with other coaches and often people are looking for some insight into some ‘hacks’ or ‘tips’.
I’m a strong believer that before we look to create efficiency we need to FIRST look to improve two things:
Efficacy of the program design
The simplicity of your process to create it
It’s easy to be efficient in creating sub-par work, the true challenge lies in the delivery of high-level service to each and every client WHILST becoming more efficient over time.
In this article, I’m going to cover 3 specific steps to consider that I’ve found to be very useful in improving my own program design efficiency and that of the coaches I work with through the Integrated Performance Mentorship.
Efficiency in your program design primarily stems from an understanding of WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
A lot of the time I talk with coaches who are performing assessments and tests where they have no concept of what the outcomes of those tests mean.
This can be problematic in three ways:
It creates ‘noise’ when you sit down to decide what to prioritise, instead of ‘noise’ we want crystal clear signals in terms of where to focus the client’s efforts.
It magnifies imposter syndrome and has you feeling like you don’t know ‘enough’ leading to even less efficiency and more second-guessing yourself.
You are confined to a certain system or model and lack the ability to think outside the box, or ask deeper questions which can hamper learning.
Each of these issues can be majorly detrimental to development over the long term and often lead to people accumulating information, certifications, courses…but with no real ideal of how or why to implement what they’ve learned - which leads us into step 2…
The fastest way to increase your efficiency in program design, and in many things is to systemize your thought process. Something I spend a lot of time on within the Integrated Performance Mentorship is building out individual frameworks and systems to help coaches become more efficient and to understand and investigate the reasons behind why they do what they currently do.
Whenever I talk or write about frameworks and systems. I'm always wary that people might think that I'm referring to templated training programs but that's not the case at all.
What we're looking to identify are themes and principles within the decisions that we make in design or in other concepts, whether it's business financial management, marketing, communication and more. Then we systemise our these decisions to limit the amount of cognitive load required.
Instead of having to think about something that you've previously considered multiple times before, you can consult the framework that you've created and make informed decisions based upon that.
So in a simple context, let's take just the example of a warm-up. In the last warmup that you wrote for a client, consider the following points:
how long does it take?
what is the intent of the warmup?
what is the intent for each exercise within the warmup?
why those exercises, why not others?
how will those exercises progress over time?
how will you measure the efficacy of the warmup?
what is the client's perspective of the warmup?
Based upon the answers to these questions we can start to construct a framework specific to the way that you devise warmups for clients.
There are a number of different benefits that come from this systemized, framework-based approach.
Frameworks and systems offer rigidity to the often chaotic reality of coaching dynamic organisms in a dynamic environment. These frameworks and systems create an outer edge within which we can be creative in our design and interventions.
By using these frameworks we increase the probability of success by putting some constraints in place that ensure certain principle-driven factors are addressed.
The other added benefit of this is it offers consistency in service delivery. If you’re a gym owner or managing a team of coaches you can be confident that if everyone is using the same frameworks you will see commonalities in service regardless of educational backgrounds.
Finally, one of the biggest benefits of this approach is that when things go wrong, you can reverse engineer it and find out why. When things go right, you can go back and reverse engineer and find out why things went so well as in when you acquire more and more knowledge, take more courses do more certifications, learn from different people.
It allows you to take those new pieces of information and plug them into your existing framework, so you can test out new strategies and interventions, you can critically appraise them okay did this work did it not work, and kind of review that as time goes by, and then decide if they're going to be a permanent addition to your framework. If you're going to retain it or if you're going to discard it. Insert Bruce Lee quote here.
I would challenge you to instead of just following a given way of thinking, or a given way of prescribing a warm-up, or a given way of doing things to think more critically and just create your own based upon your principles on your experiences, and your education.
A cycle that I see repeated time and time again is that of coaches adding more and more tools to their coaching ‘toolbox’. Their coaching toolbox ends up resembling this photo, thoughts and processes get messy and disordered, and it’s increasingly hard to find the right tool for the job.
Adding more tools isn’t the answer to getting better at what you do. If anything, you should, over time, become a master of a far narrower toolkit.
The assumption that more information enhances learning is false, assimilation of more information is part of it, but you also need to implement, reflect and critically appraise.
Taking the time out to reflect on new information, how to implement it, the contexts where it may or may not apply is key to long-term development.
I hope you’ve found these three steps useful in your desire to become more efficient within program design, I appreciate that these aren’t ‘hacks’ or quick fixes. But, anything worth doing well never began with a ‘hack’ or a ‘quick fix’!