Memes and Their Role in Developing a Coaching Culture

It is widely recognised that creating a coaching culture in education, health, business and other organisations is beneficial and will help grow happy, healthy, fulfilled human beings who perform well.

Most coaching literature focusses on how to change organisational culture, indeed a Google search, with that term, yields around 273,000,000 results (Harvard Business Review Dec 2012). In the National Health Service(UK), coaching is now used to develop leaders, staff and used within patient care to improve health outcomes. In education, the same is also happening, from coaching for head-teachers, through to schemes for primary age children. This is all in its infancy and doesn’t constitute a massive “culture change”, but at least its happening.

However, the majority of people do not work within education, health or progressive organisations. This group of people constitutes the larger part of society – the man or woman on the street, or the mum in the playground.As a broader society, we have many challenges, but we don’t have people around us, helping us to help us think differently, challenge, respond and adapt (well rarely impartial ones).

And yet the need for adaptive, progressive thinking in mainstream society has never been greater. Society’s current challenges include: the changing world of work, uncertainty following school or university, an increasingly aging population, shrinking natural resources such as oil, shrinking pension pots, changing family patterns, climate change and economic instability to name just a few.So there is very good reason to extend the development of a coaching culture to society as a whole. types of organisational cultureĀ 

So what’s needed?

According to Dr. Dennis O’Neil, Palomar College, California, “all cultures are inherently predisposed to change and, at the same time, to resist change” He goes on to identify three main ways that culture change occurs: Diffusion, Acculturation and Transculturation.

Diffusion is the movement of things and ideas from one culture to another e.g. when McDonalds arrived in different countries. Acculturation is what happens to an entire culture when alien traits replace traditional cultural patterns such as European culture replacing Native American Indians in the USA. Transculturation is what happens to an individual when he or she moves to another society and adopts its culture.

We can also include another process, one that has a new name but is very old and has much more power in today’s socially connected, technology driven world. Dr O’Neil might call it “stimulus diffusion” where change occurs within a society as a result of an idea that diffuses from another: like a Cherokee Indian observing English being written, subsequently invents a new writing system.


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