A drunk man having lost his keys, was looking for them under a streetlight. A policeman tries to help him and, after a while, asks if he is sure he lost them there. “No, I lost them in the park,” the drunkard replies. “Then why are we looking for them here?” asks the policeman. “Because here is where the light is,” answers the man.
This old joke refers to the human propensity to look for something only where the search is easiest or within available data. It’s also known in cognitive sciences as observational bias, or more simply as the streetlight effect. Finally, the joke is also used in Paul Watzlawick’s book “The Situation is Hopeless but Not Serious – The Pursuit of Unhappiness.” as one of the 4 games we play with the past, the lost key, or “the more of the same” chapter (highly recommended book by the way).
Streetlight effect, commonly used to explain errors in scientific research, is very useful to describe an individual human’s limits in problem-solving in everyday professional life. We are all turning around in our heads, trying to search for the solutions of our problems, but we’re losing ourselves in our world views, solution attempts and cognitive biases. We often need others to hear us, so we can hear ourselves, so we can think differently about the situation in order to act more efficiently.
The co-development method helps people get the insight about these blind spots and help them enlighten themselves. But more than just helping people find new possibilities for solving or unblocking the problematic situations, the ultimate objective of co-development is above all the learning – the collective learning.
From group coaching, through problem solving to the collective intelligence
Professional co-development was pioneered by Quebec authors Adrian Payette and Claude Champagne. They described the method in the book “Groupe de co-development professionnel”: “Professional co-development is a development approach for people who believe they can learn from each other in order to improve their practice.”
For me it’s a kind of group coaching between peers that creates collective intelligence regarding the problematic situations that are very often shared between the participants. In the same book we find the brief description of the method:
“The reflection carried out, individually or in a group, is encouraged by a structured consultation exercise, which deals with the problems currently experienced by the participants. One after the other, the participants take the role of the client to present the aspect of their practice which they wish to improve. The others act as consultants helping this client to make his practice more effective by enriching his understanding and by increasing its capacity for action.”
There are different approaches and variants of the original co-development. The approach I’ve been trained for and used in animation (for 2 years now) at Sigfox, was enriched by Bernard Leveque who added the tools and the learnings from the systemic and strategic approach of Palo Alto school. He developed specifically this approach and co-development program within the Convea group:
The co-development session steps
This exercise is structured around 8 steps:
- Situation presentation
- Exploratory questioning
- Situation clarification and the contract of the session
- Palo Alto Grid
- Client’s synthesis and action plan
- Wrap-up with key highlights, learnings, applications and expectations
This method is one of the most valuable and impactful things I’ve learned and practiced professionally. Therefore, my gratitude and acknowledgment go to:
1/Sigfox for investing in such a valuable training for myself, managers, leaders, employees and the whole organization.
2/My teachers and coaches: Marc Taverson, Christelle Boulanger and Nathalie Dumur from Acteus consulting agency. They helped me learn this pragmatic method which opened up the whole new world of Palo Alto School and its philosophy.
3/ Sigfox co-developers who practice and discover with me this method for 2 years now…
In the next article we will explore the benefts of practicing the co-development for participants and organization.