IPMA International Project Management Association
19 June 2020 / 10:00

Have you had your avocado today?

I have to disappoint you. This article is not about the so-called “alligator pear.” No dietary advice. It is about adopting knowledge into ability. The word avocado is being used here as a metaphor; please read my article Healthy competencies to discover the parallel 😉

Taking into account that your disappointment was not big enough to quit reading already, I want to attract your attention to the activities that bring you joy. Because this story is about comfort itself, it is about the pleasure created by doing what we love to do. It is related to the activities we are passionate about. Yes, it can be project management too 😉

You may be familiar with the feeling of being passionate about something. You wake up in the morning, and you can’t wait to start, “doing that.” You can’t go to bed, because you keep thinking about it.

Recently I experienced that feeling with Coaching.

It was a while since I discovered that avocado exists. It became part of my job. I am a Coach—a Lean focused one (a coach focused on right LEAN implementation, just for the record).
But honestly, in the beginning, I only knew that such a profession as a Coach exists. I even knew that Coaching is a beneficial tool. I just was not sure what exactly. I started reading everything I found about Coaching – to adopt knowledge.

I knew that Coaching exists. I knew it is helpful. And I knew I needed to learn more about it. At that point, my journey began.

I am learning how to skin the avocado currently. I am learning how to adopt the right coaching skills. I am maybe far from preparing tasty guacamole, but I tell you it is not essential. The journey is more important than the achievement of our desired goal. The learning that accompanies me on my journey to become a certified and sought-after coach is breathtaking. Make your own opinion 😉

Recently I struggled with understanding what the difference between problem solving and Coaching is. In the manufacturing environment, we solve problems by eliminating root causes. We have different tools such as Fishbone diagram, 5 Why, or even statistical methods like correlation, Pareto, or testing of hypothesis. All those tools and techniques focus on finding the root cause. Killing that root cause solves the problem.

But Coaching works differently. I mean brief Coaching. In Brief Coaching, the main prerequisite is that the solution does not care why the problem occurred.

So, now the dilemma, root cause or not? To be, or not to be 🙂
One of those two approaches must be wrong. Really?

Both approaches have something in common. That is questioning. In problem-solving, we ask questions to analyze, to take apart the thing to be understood. Let’s say we have a problem with our car. We analyze which part of the vehicle might be wrong. Using the right problem-solving method, we might find out that the problem is with the carburettor, so by exchanging it, we get the car working again.

On the other hand, in Coaching, we ask questions to synthesize, to put things together. We might be asking which machine the carburettor belongs to, how it looks like when the tool works perfectly. The reason is simple. We cannot put the carburettor from Fiat to Ferrari.
Most fo all, in Coaching, we ask questions not to solve problems for people. We ask questions so people can solve the problem by themselves.

Why is this important? It is essential because we cannot treat people as machines and vice versa. With tools, we can understand how they work by studying the manual. We learn how they work as a system, and then if any problem occurs, we can analyze them for root causes.

With people, it is a bit complicated. We don’t have a manual for them. We don’t know how the system they belong to operates in perfect mode. We need to synthesize that. We need to be curious to find out what are the ideal conditions under which their system operates at its best. Only that way we can help them solve their problems.

Btw – we can also coach people to do proper problem-solving. Let’s discuss that some other time 😉

By learning how to skin the avocado, I discover an entirely new world. I get answers to the questions that were bothering me for a while. I also have further questions without the answers yet.

No, I am still not able to prepare perfect guacamole. I can’t coach easily yet. I am slowly going towards that direction. By adopting my knowledge to the ability. By being passionate and, most of all, curious about the things I do daily. By being passionate to look for the answers and to figure it out by myself.

And what about you? What is your avocado? Have you had your piece today?

At the beginning of the article, I probably disappointed you with no tips for healthy food. In the middle of the article, I shared my joy of learning new competencies, and here at the end, I want to apologize. I want to say sorry because in the best case you’ll never look at an avocado the same way again 🙂






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Author of this post

Marek works as a LEAN focused Coach at Vaillant Group. His primary responsibility is to design systems to drive and to navigate cultural change towards a culture of continuous improvement. Marek develops his coaching practices in the industrial plants of the Vaillant Group in Slovakia and England.

Besides his love for cultural transformation and process improvement, he is very enthusiastic about project management. Marek founded and developed IPMA Young Crew in Slovakia. As the Management Board Member, he co-developed IPMA Slovakia by taking care of Marketing and Communication. In between 2019 and 2021, he was also the Management Board Member of Young Crew Global, responsible for the Global Young Crew Workshop and Coaches and Mentors program.

Marek has several hobbies. One of them is writing. To develop this skill, Marek writes about Coaching, Culture, Behaviors, and Project Manager Practice.