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3 ways water utilities can leverage coaching - Part 1

Updated: May 24, 2021

With a $1B revenue in Europe and a growth of 12% p.a. the coaching industry is booming yet adoption in the water sector remains low. Coaching is utilities' new ally to accelerate innovation commercialisation and adoption.

The Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT) is allocating £200 million of UK customers' money to an annual collectively-funded innovation competition running the span of 2020-2025. This begs the consideration of business practices with boosting RedBull-like effect - from other countries, sectors or professions. Among other things, coaching can help teams adopt innovation that transforms business, build the pipeline of innovation for water utilities, and empower teams to better deliver on outcomes.

This blog post series will outline 3 ways for you to implement coaching in the context your innovation management with practical illustrations of adoption pathways.

Embrace more innovation to transform your business

If you are looking for easy change, friends and family or an external consultants will probably provide what you want to hear. If you are looking for hard change, like a culture change or an in-depth transformation in the way you do business - what OFWAT calls ‘“transformational innovation”-, you should consider using a business coach.

An internal or an external coach who will be a “thinking partner”, challenging you and encouraging Innovation, Asset Management, Operations and other teams to reflect and find the best solution to address today’s un-precedent challenges.

Business coaching has no private / public boundary. It is not just for executives. Coaching will sparkle innovation at all levels of your business and its supply chain.

How to adopt?

Here are some illustrations of a successful coaching practice:

  • A few years back I accompanied a group of managers with Arup Water to help them optimise the customer experience such that it delivers more value in new ways, and to demonstrate how this can provide benefits to employees. We helped pilot a new team productivity app, an innovation at MVP phase.

  • Sponsored by the Innovation Department, a colleague and I coached a team from Severn Trent Asset Management and Operations Departments along with their suppliers - i.e. technical consultants and Cranfield University researchers - to reflect on team productivity practices and cross-functional collaboration as well as accompany them to test the app mentioned above.

If you still wonder if it is for you, ask people who have a business coach for some feedback:

70% of clients find their business coach “very valuable”

Source: ICF

Before wrapping up, i wanted to highlight that working in business transformation requires changing business habits so it is a specific kind of coaching. It takes such a business transformation coach approximately 3 months for the practice to be impactful and the intervention has to be planned with a sponsor, scheduled and cadenced. Impact measurement needs to be carefully tailored.

Following the example of many corporates around the world, water companies have an opportunity to embrace coaching more holistically and to accelerate innovation commercialisation and adoption by optimising the alignment of teams across the entire business, the innovation lab and the water supply chain.

Watch this space as my next post looks at how coaching helps utilities build an innovation powerhouse.

Virginie Vinel Kolovos MCIM

Business Transformation Coach | OKR coach CIM and EMCC Member

All rights reserved, November 2020


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