The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals Think in Action
by Donald A Schon
Basic Books, 354 pp
Publication Date: June 1983
You will be amazed at the wisdom for coaching that is in
this 20 year old book. Schön wrote about the practice of self-observation (which he called reflection in action), long before coaching had the popularity or recognition that it does today.
Nowhere in the book is the word "coaching" used, yet this
is as good a book as you'll find on how to help a coaching partner self-correct through the powerful process of reflection in action. Don't let the first couple of chapters
scare you when Schon goes through a rigorous description of "hard" and "soft" professions. He's actually making a clear case for the value of coaching as research
in action that leads to better outcomes in an environment of change and uncertainty. If you find yourself selling your coaching services to organizations, you may find this
chapter helps you build the case for coaching.
The middle section of the book is a series of case studies
for different professionals including an architect, community planner and psychotherapist. These examples will help you translate Shön's concepts into your coaching practice. In each case, you can replace "master designer,
supervisor,” etc with the word coach and apply Schon's perspective to our work as coaches.
This book invited me into a deeper reflection of my own
coaching practice and led me to several "ahas." It offers compelling reasons for you to help your coaching partners become reflective practitioners as well as tools for how to
go about it. If you value reflection and self-awareness as coaching tools, reading this book will be like having coffee with a dear friend.