A Coaching Partnership for Marine Conservation

I recently completed a project by co-leading, with my fellow coach Alison Maitland, a 6-month coaching programme for Blue Ventures, a marine conservation organisation. BV is on a mission is to support coastal fishers in remote and rural communities, across the Indian Ocean, to rebuild fisheries, restore ocean life and build lasting pathways to prosperity.

I want to share my experience as it was such an honour to be selected to coach BV’s people managers and work with such a passionate workforce.

Blue Ventures – Knowledge comes from people on the ground

BV is providing an innovative model to conservation, here in the words of the CEO: “A new conservation model sparked a marine conservation revolution in Madagascar . When we design it right, with immediate and tangible ways to get people behind them, it goes beyond conservation, it addresses poverty and climate change”

I admire BV’s model underpinned by robust data management. They provide communities with the digital tools they need to leverage its power. Data are collected by fishers themselves to drive the key decisions.

Madagascar  – The octopus model going viral

This octopus fishery management is one the major success stories. Marine scientists from BV studied octopus landings in the remote southwest of Madagascar over an eight-year period, during which villagers periodically set aside designated areas of their fishing grounds as temporary ‘closures’ to octopus fishing.

These closures generate significant and recurring ‘pay-offs’ for coastal communities in short timeframes, which is particularly important in a country where over 90% of the population live on less than $2 per day.

Having experienced the economic benefits of these closures, communities are embarking on broader marine protection efforts, establishing locally managed marine protected areas encompassing permanent reserves where all forms of fishing are prohibited.

A story of agency and hope for all of us.

Read the full article <https://blueventures.org/marine-management-pays-2/>

The coaching impact:

Our coaching mission was to support the learning of People Managers delivering Group and 1-1 sessions over a 6-month period. It was a significant assignment with an overall effort of about 250 hours.

I leave the overall experience to be described through the eyes of the participants. This is some of the feedback received on the programme completion:

Feedback from the organisation:

As the organization grows fast, developing our leaders and getting the best of our teams is the biggest challenge. Max and Alison built the foundations of a coaching culture at BV by bringing people from different departments together in a safe and courageous environment to exchange ideas and learn and support each other. This allowed us to identify common challenges and enabled a supporting structure among peers that foster better collaboration across the different departments in our organisation

Feedback from the participants:

  • I now feel much more confident as a leader, and I will take the learnings of these sessions with me and use them for the remainder of my career.
  • The group and individual coaching, including the peer-to-peer discussions on the side, have allowed me to reflect on my leadership, understand it (and myself) better, as well as how to improve on my interactions with others.
  • The Course helped me to look at the way that I and others work in a new light. It has helped build my confidence in relation to what I bring to my role
  • The group sessions facilitated communication with colleagues and made us discover more connections than we thought.
  • Max and Alison are compassionate and creative coaches, with a great ability to take people on a meaningful journey of reflection. I felt supported but also challenged and empowered, and enjoyed the process of thinking about things in a different way.
  • Working with both Max and Alison has been an eye-opening experience. The group coaching sessions enabled the team and me to collaborate in a safe space identifying common challenges and possible solutions and creating a powerful synergy. The 1-1 coaching session has enabled me to identify strengths I was not fully aware of, navigate uncertainty in times of change, and bring clarity to the process when stuck.

Coaching technical innovation

I spent 3 decades working in the IT industry, so I have some experience of sub-optimal project execution. This is why I am passionate in bringing the discipline of project management to my coaching work.

We adopted the iterative Agile project management technique to better responding to the self-learning needs of the groups and individuals. This brought close collaboration and clear boundaries with quick decision making over documented structures. The key is to adopt light and effective processes, with standard IT productivity tools in place.

We also provided a dedicated cloud based coaching portal for exercises, surveys and communication with the groups and individuals for complete confidentiality and a better user experience.

The joy of working with Alison

The whole project was a smooth ride and a seamless collaboration with Alison.

I met Alison years back when we started our coaching journey and we supported each other since then, with buddy coaching, sharing experiences and techniques, and with complete trust in opening up to our vulnerabilities. We always play on our strengths and keep learning so much from each other. A partnership fueled by abundance and passion, thank you Alison.

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