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Coaching for Strategic Innovation – by Anita Stadler, PhD

Sep 30th, 2012 | By | Category: Business Coaching

Your executive coaching client must make choices about where to focus his or her time and energy at any given moment.  Innovation can become a low priority if it is not operationalized into strategic goals.  You can assist your client by introducing an approach to goal setting that takes into account the changing nature of any organization, business, or industry.

Review Reality:

Ask your client to review his or her calendar for the last month and identify what percentage of time was spent shaping the future versus reacting to the present.  This exercise will likely illuminate the need for more time focused on the future.  Listen for indicators about whether your client’s comments about the future strategy are based on a reactive or proactive stance.  If your client wants to be more proactive, suggest the following exercise to illuminate potential areas for change.

Create Three Types of Goals:

Suggest that your client set aside time to identify three types of goals for the organization.  All three types are equally important.

The first type of goal relates to managing present realities.  Most goals of this type are in response to challenges in the business environment, actions by competitors, and the desire to grow the business in a linear fashion.  Your client probably has goals of this type clearly in mind already and is working toward them.

The second type of goal relates to letting go of activities that no longer serve a useful purpose or that are not producing the desired results.  Support your client in overcoming the inertia of habit that perpetuates sub-optimum performance.  What is the client still doing that is not producing the results needed?  What projects could be sidelined or cancelled to free up resources for new endeavors?  What activities are just a waste of time?

The third type of goal is one that will cause a non-linear shift in the organization, industry, or business that will provide significant advantage.  What “given” parameter for their industry could be questioned?  What leap in productivity could be achieved by rethinking a key process?  How could they change the way their industry operates permanently?

Help your client become disciplined at working toward these three types of goals in parallel.  It could be that something that was considered impossible last year may now be possible thanks to technology or the readiness of the market.

Shift Thinking:

At a deeper level, your client may be ready to re-address longstanding presumptions about what God can do in his or her life.  What daily discipline will provide strength for dealing with current challenges?  What personal habit or thinking pattern is holding this client back from stepping into all that God may be preparing him or her to do?  What branch is not bearing fruit and needs to be pruned from the vine?  What step of faith might produce a radical shift in outcomes?


Anita Stadler, PhD is the owner of Horizon Executive Coaching.  She coaches Christian leaders and business executives who want to connect their career and their calling more intentionally.  She is also a full-time executive coach and leadership development advisor for a Fortune 100 corporation.  She can be reached at (714) 952-0995 or  For more information, see

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