Mob Handed

Flash Mob Coaching could be the ideal way to bring coaching to people who wouldn’t normally benefit – and it takes only 10 minutes, says David Gray
If you see a group of people performing a brief and seemingly pointless act, look again – it might just be Flash Mob Coaching (FMC), the latest phenomenon to hit the profession.
The concept of flash mobs has been with us for a few years. First created in Manhattan, USA, in 2003, flash mobs are a group of people who congregate suddenly at a pre-arranged place to perform a short act, often connected with entertainment, satire or free expression.
The event itself is usually organised via social media sites such as Facebook, or viral emails.
The brainchild and inspiration behind Our Peoples’ Coach Flash Mob (OPCFM) is 28-year-old CPCC coach Shivani Mair, founder of Creative by Nature. She arranges for a group (mob) of coaches to go on to the street and engage passers-by in a free, 10-minute coaching session.
One of the UK’s first OPCFM events took place in London in September during the International Coach Federation (ICF)’s international conference.
Around 38 ICF attendees answered the call on 3 October, some of whom had just flown in, or were new to the UK. All were new to FMC.
Afterwards, many talked about being out of their “comfort zone”, while others commented on being at the “growing edge of coaching”. Many felt the sense of danger and personal challenge: “It was an experiment for me.”

How it happened
Mair briefed the coaches, setting out the aims of the event, one of which was to develop themselves as coaches and to have powerful conversations. Clearly, some were petrified. However, they pulled on their ICF t-shirts and set off for Hammersmith Broadway.
Over the next hour and a half, 64 members of the public experienced a 10-minute, one-to-one coaching conversation as they stood on a busy UK high street.
Many more people were approached, and all coaches experienced multiple rejections. But what came through strongly in the feedback, from both clients and coaches, is the learning and inspiration that resulted.
Mair received powerful feedback from ‘street’ clients, during her first solo attempts as an Our Peoples’ coach. One said, “Just keep doing whatever it is you are doing ’cos you have no idea how deep it is. It’s amazing.”
Some talked about boosting confidence and gaining the inspiration to take action. For others, the coaching brought out things they had been holding back for some time – all in less than 10 minutes! See it at: www.youtube.com/creativebynature1

What about OPCFM coaches?
There was a strong air of realism in the responses. One coach commented that “street coaching is not for me”, while another reflected on how rejection drained her. Others found people would tell them their deepest thoughts within three minutes!
Overall, the session inspired participants to commit to launching OPCFM in Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, France, Japan, Canada and the US.
OPCFM seems a perfect vehicle for taking coaching to the people who wouldn’t normally be able to access powerful conversations. 

David E Gray is professor of leadership and organisational behaviour at the University of Greenwich

Coaching at Work, volume 8, issue 1

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