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An unlikely combination - using non-linear dynamics in coaching.

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

Image by Reto Scheiwiller from Pixabay

In collaboration with Cliburn Chan, Jaroslav Stark and other fantastic colleagues, I carried out research using mathematical modelling to understand the way the immune system worked. This paper, published in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, sees to transfer some of this understanding to the world of coaching and group learning.


Complexity theory, including non-linear dynamics, provides a powerful approach to understanding and analysing complex interactions as seen when group members learn and develop. However, complexity theory does not feature heavily in the coaching literature, depriving coaches of this tool. This paper discusses the implications of non-linear dynamics on our understanding of group development and illustrate this with a toy model of anger in a group of three. While formal mathematical modelling of group behaviour is probably not achievable, the insights can help coaches understand how best to intervene to maximise their impact and bring benefit to their clients.


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