Episode #076: Dr. Jonathan Kirschner: Technology and Innovation in Coaching: The AIIR Approach

Will artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies render coaches irrelevant? How can coaches embrace and integrate technology into their coaching practices rather than be freaked out or misguided by it? Tune in to this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone podcast where host Dr. Krister Lowe interviews special guest Dr. Jonathan Kirschner–Founder and CEO of AIIR Consulting–to answer these and other important questions.

Dr. Jonathan Kirschner is Founder and CEO of AIIR Consulting, a Member of the AIIR Global Coaching Alliance, an Executive Coach and a Business Psychologist. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Religion from New York University and a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from Widener University. Jonathan leads a team of professionals at AIIR Consulting dedicated to helping clients achieve sustainable change through the AIIR Method–a place where business and psychology meet. In this episode of the podcast Dr. Kirschner shares his compelling journey to founding AIIR Consulting; AIIR’s 4 stage method for driving sustainable change; how AIIR differentiates and scales coaching using technology; The Coaching Zone, Enterprise Coaching Manager and Team Zone platforms; AIIR’s approach to Team Effectiveness; the essential dimensions of Team Culture and Team Productivity; AIIR’s modular approach to team intervention and coaching; as well as stories coaching both client teams as well as teams within AIIR itself.

This is a rich episode that provides listeners with a range of useful tips and tools as well as a compelling vision for how coaches can remain relevant in an increasingly technology-augmented world. Dive into The Team Coaching Zone today and let Dr. Kirschner help you take your team coaching practice to the next level!

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Resources Mentioned

  1. https://aiirconsulting.com/

Listen to the Episode:








Part 1: Getting to Know the Guest: Dr. Jonathan Kirchner

  • Founder and CEO of AIIR Consulting
  • Member of the Aiir Global Coaching Alliance
  • An Executive Coach and Business Psychologist
  • Expertise in the areas of: strategic thinking, bolstering team leadership skills, cultivating emotional intelligence, managing stress and increasing influence
  • Coaches senior leaders in financial services, technology, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, manufacturing, oil and gas, government, non-profits and higher education
  • In 2009 developed the Aiir Coaching Method for achieving sustained behavioral change
  • Develop online platforms: the Coaching Zone and Enterprising Coaching Manager
  • Creator of an app Stress Check downloaded over 1.5 million times
  • Member of the Society of Consulting Psychologists, American Psychological Association, International Society for Coaching Psychology
  • B.S. from New York University in Psychology and Religion
  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Widener University
  • Passion for business psychology and human development: 1-to-1 coaching, team effectiveness and technology
  • Jonathan’s story about an early challenge with a processing speed and reading comprehension problem: story about tapping into strengths, identifying gaps and using out-of-the-box strategies to overcome and bridge the gaps: seed of becoming a consultant was planted by grade 5
  • Thought he was going to be a Psychotherapist when he was at NYU and the diversity of therapy traditions for effecting change; worked with a researcher at NYU and studied with word choices and relationship with psychopathology
  • Tyranny of the “should”
  • Went to Widener University – doctorate in clinical psychology; took a course in executive coaching with Bill Hass and became compelled with the intersection of business and psychology
  • Created the AIIR Methodology- Assessment, Insight, Implementation, Reinforcement
  • About AIIR Consulting:
    • 2009 was the apex for Jonathan and wanted to scale executive coaching
    • Differentiation – how can we make ourselves different in a coaching market that was becoming commoditized
    • Rise of technology following recession and the rise of video conferencing as a mode for meeting and doing business: in 2009: we will become the video coaching company
    • Decided to build a custom video coaching technology including video conferencing, coaching notes, scheduling, additional learning resources: now branded as The Coaching Zone. A virtual environment that confidentially connects the coach with the client and where in-between sessions coaches and clients can continue interacting
    • The Coaching Zone also now has a Team Zone environment
    • Sell an analytics platform call the ECM – Enterprise Coaching Manager
  • The role of technology in disrupting all industries including coaching

Part 2: Approach to Team Effectiveness

  • Team effectiveness more ad hoc in the past
  • In early 2016, the AIIR Global team looked at the market and there is something going on about the importance of teams now that is standing out
  • The velocity of change, the amount of information, the degree of disruptive competition, how companies can be unseated so quickly…drive the need for teams more than ever before.
  • Developed a methodology for high performing teams, a team effectiveness solution
  • The literature on high performing teams is largely outdated…do we know what teams need today and more importantly what do they need tomorrow
  • Applied the AIIR method as a team to developing a team effectiveness solution
  • What are the crucial ingredients of high performing teams in today’s world?
    • Looked at the literature
    • Surveyed the AIIR coaches
    • Surveyed clients
    • Looked at cases
    • Two essential ingredients: 1) Team Culture and 2) Team Productivity
    • A high performing team is high on team culture and team productivity
  • Dimensions of Team Culture
    • A. Support empathy, care, seeking to understand
    • B. Trust – crucial foundational element, sharing perspectives and concerns
    • C. Communication – norms of respect as well as tactical aspects; candid
  • Dimensions of Team Productivity
    • A. Purpose – clarity around our team’s mandate
    • B. Roles – clarity around roles and responsibilities; supports accountability; flexibility and fluidity around roles
    • C. Decisions – what are our processes, how effective are our decisions, are we on board following a decision
  • Approach to Team Intervention and Team Coaching
    • Simple vs. complex team models
    • Injecting measurement through pulse surveys at the beginning middle and end and plotting on a 2x2
    • 4 Types of Teams: High Performing Team (high culture and high productivity), Driven Team (high productivity, low culture), Frozen Team (low productivity and low culture), Comfortable Team (high culture, low productivity)
    • Bersin by Deloitte 2017 Predictions
    • Using pulse surveys as well as longer surveys (e.g. Team Emotional Intelligence Survey) but not getting bogged down in assessments
    • Modular approach: 3 solutions – Roadmap, Ignite and Ascent; can help project teams to leadership and senior leadership teams; productized offerings which helps scaling; 3 solutions build on each other
    • Combine high touch with productization
    • Team Effectiveness and Team Coaching: use the terms interchangeably
    • Technology component: maximize stickiness in between sessions; The Team Zone; can collaborate during and after sessions; the dynamic team guide (the team mandate, key priorities, team development plan) lives on The Team Zone
  • Lot of requests that come to AIIR come in the form of teambuilding and offsites: goal however is to create sustainable change; teambuilding can help with some short term shift in the climate but effects dissipate; spend a bit more but you will have something that sticks
  • Onion metaphor – at the core is the individual leader/executive coaching and optimizing him/her; at the next level of the onion is often how to optimize my team; a natural progression and different entry points
  • Developing software in house using an agile approach: risks and benefits of using an agile approach.  If you aren’t clear about what you wanted then you can lose time and money. If you are clear than unleashing agile can create something which otherwise would take forever.
  • Managing gig economy teams
  • Story #1: Challenge/Learning Opportunity
    • One of first engagements was with a healthcare non-profit
    • Spent so much time on the design in a vacuum; came in overly prepared consultants
    • Didn’t interview team members or dig into what was going on; we understood the business challenges
    • Team leader gives an inspiring speech but it wasn’t resonating with the team; team was on a different page altogether; Jonathan had to put on group psychotherapy hat: did an in vivo intervention and called out what was going on in the room
    • Lessons: interviewing team members; not just focusing on the business challenge but also inquiring into the team’s culture; can’t have enough of icebreaking and connectivity prior to the experience; build up trust and safety as much beforehand as possible; slow is fast; calling out what is in the room
  • Story #2: Success Story/Operating Style in Jonathan’s Team at AIIR
    • Self-coaching
    • Two techniques: empty chair technique (weekly team meeting; the team sits in the empty chair; at the beginning of the meeting: what is going on in the team now?, what does the team need now?)
    • Identified behaviors that will help the team achieve its mission and also derailers.  Put them on cards and then pick a card and talk about it as a team.  Keeps these values alive in the team. Helps bring needs and concerns to the surface.
    • Internalized object – make ourselves irrelevant as external coaches; how does a team create its own inner coach

Part 3: Closing/Parting Advice/Words of Wisdom

  • Diversity, Speed and Disruption: Tremendous amount of uncertainty in the world; black swan events; great velocity to reach targets to remain competitive; innovation of technology is entering into hockey stick growth – AI, Watson, Alexa → Google Home; diversity of ideas and backgrounds in teams
  • AI as an augment to human development (not solution to) will increase; AI component
  • Shorter more frequent assessments
  • Integrated and more coherent technology experience
  • Learn more about Jonathan and AIIR: www.aiirconsulting.com; great resources there, article there by Jonathan and colleague on team effectiveness
  • Two ways of approaching technology in coaching: freaking out vs. embracing it and also not being misguided by it
  • People ultimately want to connect and share with another human; technology can augment and bolster but not replace that

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