If I knew that my current book would have involved co-ordinating 43 contributors and editing nearly 400 pages of text, I may never have started it! Like many projects it started as a “good idea” and once the journey began, it mushroomed. In this blog, I share my sense of purpose that carried me through the endeavour.
As a supervisee and then a supervisor myself, I was always curious to know where the techniques that were commonly understood to be helpful in supervision, came from. Many of the approaches that I used with my supervisees I knew about through being on the receiving end of them myself. Sometimes particular approaches resonated for me and I went in search of fuller training, sometimes just my curiosity was piqued – and a book was purchased or an article read. Building a suite of approaches that suited me was very much like a game of hide and seek.
As my own supervision practice developed, I noticed that often coaches and supervisors brought moments in their work that didn’t quite go as planned. Sometimes when we unpicked those moments it became clear that they had used an approach without fully appreciating how it would work best. With Psychology in my background, I have a tendency to want to know the origin of things. Especially in a supervision context, how, for example, can you use a gestalt technique without honouring the philosophy behind it?
Many years ago, I had self-published a book “The A-Z of Executive Coaching Techniques” – it had come about as a resource for the coach training programme I designed. When I wrote this, I was inspired by a book edited by Gladena McMahon and Anne Archer: “101 Coaching Strategies and Techniques”. They used a consistent structure to showcase each technique – and so did I. When I started practicing as a supervisor, I had an internal barometer … at what point would I have acquired 26 techniques to use in coaching supervision. It seemed somehow this might illustrate that I had reached a similar level of competency in both arenas.
Meanwhile, my relationship with Taylor Francis Publishing was becoming established, I had completed two books with colleagues in the supervision field, published under their Routledge brand. When the second one was completed, I wondered if I was brave enough to have a go on my own. I decided I was. Happily, the original book by Gladena and Anne was published by Routledge and so my suggestion of doing a “sequel” was welcomed.
When you submit a proposal for a book you are asked to put some considerable thought into how it will be structured and how it will fit amongst the other books in the market. Recognising that 101 techniques is a lot, there needed to be some sense of organisation to them. The 101 coaching book organised them according to different coaching subjects. As I pondered on what might be right for supervision, it occurred to me that this was an opportunity not only form a compendium of supervision techniques but to clarify where they came from and therefore identify the mindset that would be needed to deliver them well. The structure of the book was borne; ten philosophical chapters explaining key concepts and then a number of techniques which honour that thinking.
The trouble of course was that 101 techniques is considerably more than 26! And so the collaboration began. I reached out to people I knew who in turn introduced me to people I had yet to meet. Very quickly the size of the task became apparent. But the universe was looking out for me. My path crossed with Christine Mitterbauer, who was a PA at the time and training to be a coach – long story short she helped me co-ordinate the growing list of contributors. Then I realised that in working with the contributors to refine their content I became a bit word blind. I needed a pair of fresh eyes. This coincided with Claire Davey, a longstanding client, leaving her role in Deloitte. She offered to take a look at a few of the techniques …. And got hooked! In her enthusiasm, she agreed to take a look at all 101 of the techniques to provide a sense check that they would be accessible to the reader. Finally, Helen Robson introduced herself to me having read one of my articles. We had coffee, I discovered she had previously been an editor …. At Routledge! Training as a supervisor herself, she was keen to broaden her repertoire. It didn’t take too much arm twisting for her to agree to review the final drafts of the philosophical chapters for me. The rest as they is history.
It took about 15 months from submission of the proposal to the delivery of the manuscript. I have a few more grey hairs as a result. But without a doubt this has been the best CPD I have ever had the privilege of doing, and I have 43 colleagues with whom to thank for the experience.