Stewardship of the professional coaching field is more fully engaged by establishing a venue for collaboration among a wide diversity of relevant organizations and individual providers that offer services, tools, documents and other resources in the growing field of coaching. A venue has been established for collaborating coaching communities (CCC).
Our venue for collaborating coaching communities is similar (though digital) to those found in many parts of the world—be they plazas, squares or current-day malls. While acknowledging the diversity of terms and diversity of shapes and functions served, we will make use of one term, for convenience. That term is “quad.” The quad (short for “quadrangle”) is a usually rectangular plot of land that is surrounded (typically) by buildings that are located in a village, city or collegiate institution. Often referred to as a “commons” (term used in New England), a square or an urban park (as opposed to a large area set aside for trees, lawns and recreation), the quad becomes a space that attracts people and provides an opportunity for communication and commerce. For individuals and relevant businesses, it will provide lead generation opportunities as well.
A Sociopetel Space
The social analyst, Robert Sommer, identifies this as an area that is “sociopetel” (pronounced: so-see-op’-ital)—it pulls people in. This invented word is derived from the term “centripetal” – which means to pull inward as opposed to “centrifugal” which means to push outward. Isaac Newton described centripetal as “a force by which bodies are drawn or impelled, or in any way tend, towards a point as to a center”. The quad can powerfully pull people in—the quad can draw or impel people toward a center—the quad itself.
The quad pulls us in not only because it is surrounded by buildings and other facilities that house people, but also because it is a space that uniquely offers the people within these buildings a shared and often quietly beautiful setting in which to walk, talk and perhaps find a moment for personal reflection.
An Event-filled Space
Quads are also spaces that house their own events. In northern climates they become skating rinks in the Winter. Gazebos are built on the Quad, so that concerts can be held that folks attend at no charge. On a summer day, the quads become the location for farmer’s markets and craft fairs. The quad can even host a wedding or a Halloween costume party.
Perhaps most importantly, in societies that allow (and encourage) free speech, the quad becomes a setting for the soapbox orators who share their ideas about human rights or gun control or free love!! And the quad becomes a gathering place for demonstrations, marches and rallies. Quads (and commons) have been historically-significant sites for many gatherings that brought together those who wished to air grievances about war, welfare and worker rights.
A Collaborative Space
Quads don’t just happen. They are not simply empty spaces in the middle of town. Rather, they are built purposefully through collaborative planning—and, in turn, become spaces in which further collaboration can take place. It is a fundamental principle of social organization that an institution or event that can only be built through cooperative, collaborative action, will itself become a venue for further collaboration.
It is on quads that citizens meet to share ideas and dream of new joint ventures. It is on quads that members of a community taste the fruits of other collaborations (such as the ice rink or gazebo concert) and recognize that they too can make a difference in their community by collaborating with other members of the community. We cooperate in order than we might increasingly cooperate. It is a circle that is generative rather than being competitive.
An Inviting Space
We can step back for a moment and view the quad from inside one of its surrounding buildings. We have come to this building in order to buy a scarf or some jewelry – or perhaps to have our hair cut or deliver our child for day-care or pick up dry-cleaning. While attending to this “business”, we look out the “window” or step out on the porch or balcony and notice the idyllic landscape outside: a small area filled with trees, walkways, perhaps a statue commemorating a war hero, a fountain, or a band shell. We don’t have time right now to enter this space, but put it on our list of places to visit in the near future.
Two days later we return to the building to do business and notice that the landscape has changed: the space is now filled with people who are purchasing locally-grown food from independent farmers and vendors. We walk out to this festive space and buy a few vegetables. Or perhaps we encounter a festive environment filled with balloons and music with the wonderful scents of BBQ and people from all the buildings around the quad are socializing, connecting, networking. We are compelled to return often to this weekly market and devote a few minutes each week to sitting quietly on a bench in this space in order to recollect our thoughts. Soon, we knock on the door of our local Merchants association (which oversee the maintenance and activities of this space) and ask how we can help with this collaborative effort.
A Commerce-Surrounding Space
What kind of institutions and facilities are likely to surround the quad? There are often stores and office buildings. A church/mosque/synagogue or city hall often anchor the quad and provide it with special purpose and convey special values. The quad is also likely to attract agencies that serve immediate human needs: a travel agency, day-care center or clinic. And the quad might be home to a museum or library—even a concert hall or theater.
And there are many informally authorized businesses operating on the Quad: the independent vendors at the weekly farmers market, the artists displaying their work on the Quad’s gates and fences, the street musicians and fortune tellers (operating on card tables). the sketch artists drawing pictures of children for their doting parents. It can be a quite busy and diverse gathering – especially on weekends and holidays.
The structure, purpose and dynamics of a physical quad/plaza/commons/mall has been transferred with CCC to the creation of a virtual, digitally mediated quad customized for the unique needs of the global coaching community. CCC is distinctive not only in its functioning in digital space but also in its devotion to a specific business and specific kind of stewardship: the business is professional coaching and the stewardship centers on the growth, enrichment and promotion of professional coaching as a vital, evolving and needed form of human service in our 21st Century.