Coach's VIEW is a business column authored by executive coaches in COACH A, aimed at providing valuable insights and effective approaches for leveraging coaching to foster organizational and leadership development. The column draws on the latest coaching trends and data, as well as insights from notable global publications on coaching.
AI Coaching Expands the "Questioning" ExperienceCopied Copy failed
2023 is shaping up to be the year that marks a significant shift in public acceptance of generative AI. Recently, there has been an overwhelming surge in newspaper articles discussing generative AI almost every day. In what scenarios do you find ChatGPT to be most useful? ChatGPT serves as a valuable resource when we seek specific information. We ask questions, and ChatGPT provides answers. This kind of interaction is normal. However, AI coaching attempts to reverse this interaction process. Instead of humans posing questions to AI, AI takes the lead by posing thought-provoking questions to humans, thereby eliciting answers from their side.
"Questioning" Now Belongs to Everyone
The concept of "questioning" has undergone a significant transformation, becoming accessible to everyone. Throughout history, questions have often been used by those in positions of power to extract information from inferiors. While this may sound exaggerated, the true value of coaching lies in its ability to liberate the act of questioning from power dynamics constraints.
An illustrative example can be found in the film "Twilight Samurai," which won a Japan Academy Award in 2002. Set during the Edo period, there is a scene where a younger sister asks her elder sister a question, only to be rebuffed with the response, "You shouldn't be asking your elder sister questions." This reflects a time when lower-ranking individuals were discouraged from questioning those in higher positions. Similarly, in Japanese organizations, it has been common, and may still be, for questions to flow strictly in a top-down manner, with superiors assigning subordinates the task of gathering information.
However, coaching seems to have provided an opportunity for many people to look at the other values of "questioning". They are no longer solely seen as a means to acquire information but rather as catalysts for personal growth. As more individuals recognize the value of questioning and its applicability across various contexts, people from all positions can now experience the tremendous value of being asked thought-provoking questions. These questions are not merely aimed at obtaining answers or information; they foster independent thinking, encourage perspective shifts, and obtain new insights. The act of being questioned holds immense significance, and AI coaching has the potential to provide this transformative experience to people more extensively.
AI Coaching Reaffirms the Value and My Appreciation for Coaching
During a breakfast meeting at the Davos Forum earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sit next to the CEO of a Finnish company that develops AI coaching. We immediately connected, and shortly after, I decided to try their AI Coaching platform. To my amazement, the AI coach displayed a remarkable level of understanding, asking pertinent questions in response to my inputs. Their AI coaching system is built upon an extensive collection of communication patterns used by top coaches worldwide. The ChatGPT engine generates appropriate questions and responses tailored to the specific topic brought up by users.
Inspired by this experience, I made the decision to collaborate with them in developing a Japanese version of AI Coaching. My hope is to provide many Japanese individuals with the opportunity to experience it. Since the pilot version was released, I have been utilizing AI Coaching daily for nearly two months, starting from the end of June. With confidence, I can say that I am currently the most active user of AI Coaching in Japan. Through this consistent use of AI Coaching, I have once again recognized the inherent value of coaching itself.
If Everyone Could Access Coaching Anytime
One of the immediate benefits I experience in using AI coaching is how quickly it helps me organize my thoughts. Through a series of questions, I am prompted to structure and articulate my ideas, which ultimately leads to greater clarity and faster decision-making.
But the impact of organizing thoughts extends beyond just taking action.
It also has a profound effect on human relationships by reducing stress. As social beings, we are inherently concerned about our relationships with others. Questions like "What does this person think of me?" or "How can I improve this relationship?" often occupy our thoughts. However, when these loose ends are addressed through coaching, they are swiftly resolved, alleviating stress and creating a sense of closure. This is one of the key reasons why I have felt an elevated sense of energy and well-being over the past two months.
Another significant aspect of using AI coaching is that it heightens our awareness of the future. When we are posed with a question, we become conscious of it. The question acts as a spotlight, illuminating aspects that were previously unseen. We shift from solely focusing on solving immediate problems to contemplating our future goals. This shift occurs way more frequently as we are engaged in the coaching process. This newfound emphasis on the future is a valuable outcome of being asked questions, and it applies not only to AI coaching but also to other forms of coaching. However, with an AI coach, the added advantage is the flexibility it offers. There is no need to coordinate schedules with a human coach, and you can begin organizing your thoughts whenever you desire. This convenience is a significant benefit that AI coaching provides us.
New Possibilities for AI
On the other hand, of course, there are limitations to AI coaching. The most obvious is the lack of feedback capability. In a sense, this could be called a lack of "feeling" ability. Humans can sense what the other person is not verbalizing. A good coach does not miss the gap between what they are telling you and what you think they are actually thinking. This is not detecting a lie, but rather noticing the discrepancy between mind and head that even the person is unaware of, and communicating this to others.
AI does not currently have that ability. Therefore, it may take some time to achieve in-depth awareness. However, if you are willing to change yourself toward your own personal topics and enjoy the value of being questioned, AI coaching can be a life-changing tool. Instead of expecting AI to provide you with answers, you will be asked to help you find the answers within yourself. I believe that AI coaching offers a new way to utilize generative AI.
* World Economic Forum Annual Meeting was held January 16-20, 2023.
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