How To Create A Winning Coaching Model Using A "What Works Matrix"

by Jean-Paul Cortes

"The ultimate competitive advantage lies in an organization's ability to learn and to rapidly transform that learning into action." - From the "GE Field Book: Jack Welch's battle plan for corporate revolution."

What is the real use for a coaching model? The simplest answer is to solve a problem or rather to find a solution to a problem.

And yet, as many coaches can attest to, there's simply no way you can expect one model to be a “one size fits all” solution for the challenges people are faced with.

Does that mean that all coaching models are doomed to failure? No. In fact, the opposite is true; having many models is the answer. You just need a tool to put things together.

What is the “what works matrix?”

In the early 90s, Lloyd Trotter was head of GE's Electrical Distribution and Control; in his search for best practices, he actually came up with a way for measuring how individual plants were doing against a set of criteria that determined a good electrical factory.

His “Trotter Matrix,” as it became known, was so effective that it was extended to all GE factories even being used at its Crotonville training facilities. As it turns out, this matrix can be adapted to solve all sorts of problems.

When it comes to coaching, it can be applied to create a “high level” model to strategically find solutions even in the most challenging of coaching situations.

How to use the matrix

There are four steps for using the matrix:

1. State the problem, situation, goal as you understand it.

2. Identify the elements that you believe are part of a good solution. In other words, what do you have to do well in order to solve the problem?

3. Ask yourself: what have you or other people done to successfully solve the problem (you're looking for prior successes that you or other people have had in similar situations).

4. Start searching throughout the matrix for what could work and filling it in with what you find.

During the process, you might have to change one or more of the elements to get a better picture of the problem; you might even need to re-state the problem entirely, don't worry it's all part of the process.

What you'll end up finding is that ideas that worked in other situations will eventually lead you to a course of action to follow.

Why this model works

Every problem has its own elements, that's why it's so many coaches frequently are stumped when trying to adapt one model to every problem or situation that they're faced with.

The reason why the matrix works so well, is that it takes the best from many different sources applies them in a practical way that actually has worked before.

The true power of the matrix, is its ability to create new ideas from a combination of old ideas from many different sources. It's not circumscribed to one approach, but rather, like a river, it adapts and flows freely.

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