Coach's Casebook

Working With Your “Neck Top Computer”

Working With Your “Neck Top Computer”

Working With Your “Neck Top Computer”

Can you remember the phrase “I’m a Mac” from the Apple computer commercials?

Well I have recently found that phrase resonating.

Having worked with people in the training, development and coaching domain for more years than I care to tell, I can share with you one fundamental truth. Folk are different but they all have a “neck top computer” and so in a sense we are all “a Mac” or “a Windows”.

( to avoid a tirade of flaming from other OS users, I’d just like to say that other OSs are available).

Not one person is the same as another. Everyone is unique, but they all have the capacity to run better programmes or run their current programmes better.

This means that when we are crafting training and coaching approaches for our clients, we need to be flexible. We need to adapt our approach so that we provide the best solution for our clients.

This may sound self evident, after all you’re not the same as anyone else you know.

However, if you think about how we craft our teaching in schools, colleges and universities, we tend to generalise a solution for everyone.

Even psychological profiling, such a Myers-Briggs, attempts to force people into 1 of 16 categories.

This, I think, is not a very satisfactory way to label people. It’s easier to work with generalisations but I think that my clients deserve the value and benefit of a bespoke solution. Accept no substitutes!

What I have noticed, however, is that people tend to run very similar mental programmes in their “neck top computer”.

These are like a selection of different applications like programmes on a modern computer.

Just as your laptop might have a word processor, a spreadsheet calculator, a presentation system and an email client you will have routines you follow in your head. an just as computer software will vary in size, performance, features and effort required to run it, so a person’s mental software will also have different performance paramenters.

A person’s mental programmes are sometimes formally written using structured education and training. Others are created organically to meet a need and even more programmes, such as creativity are often the result of a mix of different programmes, perhaps in conflict.

Often the development of these programmes is ad hoc, chaotic and certainly non linear and so they are often not as well crafted as they could be.

No matter how these programmes have been developed, very often they are sub-optimal in their match to the individual “neck top computer” on which they run.

So as a coach it is our role to help people maximise the use of their mental software so that they can more readily achieve the levels of success that aspire to.

Extending this metaphor a little further, let’s think about how this should influence how we consider our development and coaching approach. How do clients operate their “neck top computer”:

Every client has a similar set of hardware on which to run their programmes but the data entry method will vary…visual, audio and kinaesthetic are the 3 main entry modes.

Each client has the potential to run a variety of subroutines. Not all are yet fitted and not all are written for maximum efficiency.

The basic motivational software people have is a ‘difference engine’ . We see what we have and decide what we want and then take actions to reduce the difference.

There are differing methods for changing the software.

Bad software can be displaced by good software, but not as easily as in a computer as the mental encoding is more like groove in a record that must be “re-scratched” to update.

Different routines can be added together to produce a complicated sequence for greater output.

Lack of use can often dull the efficiency of the software.

The more programmes you have open and running, the less processor time and memory you have for each programme.

So with these basic parameters identified for the “neck top computer” we can start to understand how to better craft our training, development and coaching solutions.

And if you’re looking to upgrade your operating system from Win3.11 to OSX 10.6 then perhaps a conversation with a coach would help you clarify your path.

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