Nine months with innovators at Cookhouse Lab

“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

― Roy T. Bennett

I've been working for the last nine months as a partner with Cookhouse Lab in Toronto. I'd love to share what it's been like...

Cookhouse Lab is a collaborative space for innovative thinkers. They welcome insurance and reinsurance experts, financial services professionals, entrepreneurs and academics from around the globe to join in on developing solutions for the current and future trends of InsurTech.

My journey with Cookhouse Lab began as a part of the founders' team when they began planning their setup and opening of the Lab. My mission, as I accepted it, was to support the founders and make sure that Cookhouse Lab would open its doors on February 1st 2017 - and we did it! During this journey we analyzed and identified one of the challenges we were going to be facing which was; How would we be able to motivate and support the members of the projects to work as a tribe and not see themselves as they are - competitors. How could we support them to work in a new way, with a new mindset and style (Design Thinking)? My proposed solutions as a professional coach for innovators was to offer coaching to the project participants while they actively work on a project at Cookhouse Lab. And there it was - my new opportunity to work in a fun environment.

My findings so far…

Understanding the team and building a tribe

What has caught my attention the most is seeing project participants change through their journey. From day one when they meet not as competitors but as individuals with one goal and purpose - develop a solution to their accepted challenge.

Our first coaching session is based on an introduction where we cover, amongst other topics,

  • What coaching is and isn't

  • How the participants each define Innovation

  • What it means to the participants to work as a team

  • What is their commitment to the team

During our first session the team shares their thoughts and they begin to identify themselves as a tribe. Each individual shares what they'd like to achieve by the end of their journey and how they'll know they've had a successful journey. I meet the team on a weekly basis and we check their level of satisfaction on their progress, the team have a chance to identify what is missing and what opportunities are around them from which they can create even more. Sometimes they discover new skills each one can bring to the table, new contacts, new doors that will allow them to bring even more value to the project.

How does coaching support the participants?

One of the most interesting things I've noticed as a coach is the change the participants go through from day one - where they see themselves as a person and as the journey progresses they truly become one tribe. They know they can count on each other and they arrive to each session more motivated to work together and to tackle whatever challenge they are facing.

Another awesome change is from start to end of the session. They often come in frustrated, tired and/or confused because of the many changes and feedback from their interviewees. After ninety minutes the participants leave feeling more motivated, have more clarity and a well defined plan for their next steps. They leave the session, get together and plan productively for the following week.

What fascinates me the most about Cookhouse Lab

The concept of Cookhouse Lab is genius because it motivates its participants from the start to collaborate. It did it from day one when it opened its doors to all insurance and re-insurance organizations to participate along with academics, start-ups, etc. What fascinates me the most is that collaboration starts from its co-founders and it is them modeled by the participants and interns. It is amazing how open they become to sharing ideas, thoughts and how committed they are to pushing themselves outside their comfort zone. It is gratifying to see that there are still humans in this world open to learning new things and collaborate.

It is great to hear the team sharing their team stories with me. The stories that now define them as a team. They are no longer competitors but a TRIBE.

In summary

Partnering with Cookhouse Lab has been one of the best decisions I've made. Working with their teams and seeing their motivation and interest in using a Design Thinking methodology to find solutions to current problems and using Coaching to re-focus, and also wanting to learn how they can bring these tools back to their organizations to work better with their internal teams is one of the main reasons I became a coach. Because that is the start of a ripple effect.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

― Mother Teresa

If you are an innovator or you are interested in the topic of Innovation and would like to work with me, give me a shout.

Ibeth Ayala

Coach for Innovators

#Innovation #CoachforInnovators

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