Igniting Social Change Through Data
The ICF Foundation’s focus is to foster social progress through the power of pro bono coaching projects, such as its Ignite initiative. Started in 2017, Ignite aligns with the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for Education. To date, Ignite has 62 educational organizations partnered with 39 ICF Chapters that provide pro bono coaching to leaders of these organizations.
One of the ways the Foundation ensures progress through Ignite is by uniquely measuring impact with the help of Lisa Ann Edwards, a coach and data/research specialist. Lisa’s work is committed to understanding the catalysts for change through measurable, evidence-based lenses. Lisa’s emphasis on data comes from a strong belief in its importance to the coaching industry. Her role with the Foundation’s Ignite program is to provide industry knowledge and expertise in delivering survey results.
The Foundation sends surveys to all Ignite coachees following the completion of their coaching engagement. The goals of these surveys are to learn about the impact of coaching, understand where the program makes a difference and to narrow the scope of the impact. Most of those surveyed said their goals were topics such as communication, personal development, work/life balance, time management, and to improve leadership skills and develop their careers.
Lisa also conducts interviews with Ignite coachees who have completed coaching, focusing on what’s changed in their lives and how they’ve transformed as a result of coaching.
“It’s fun hearing the stories of people and how coaching is impacting them. Those who participate in Ignite wouldn’t normally be able to benefit from coaching,” says Lisa. “It’s great to hear their appreciation and experience and their personal transformation, how it’s opened their eyes and helped them be more collaborative.”
Through the survey and interview responses, she’s found that coachees reported a high-level of motivation and interest in participating in coaching. They also reported that the ripple effect from coaching led to improved operational efficiency and employee engagement. Over half of those surveyed believed they made a “significant change” in teamwork.
These stories are what drew Lisa to the Ignite initiative in the first place. Lisa says that the target group for the Foundation, people who work in education, is what she believes is extremely important. Whether adults or children, Lisa thinks education is a high priority for social progress.
“Everywhere you look in our world you see the importance of data and the way it’s used; data science has grown significantly over the last few years. Coaches can feel a little intimidated [when it comes to Ignite]…how should they begin? What I love about what we are doing is we are getting them started, and it’s helping coaches see the impact of what they’re doing,” she says.
The Ignite data collected so far is only the beginning. Lisa and the Foundation are hoping to continue to collect data and tell the impact stories of Ignite.
“The need and value for coaching continue to grow. It’s a human need. It’s sorely needed in our world,” says Lisa. “Being able to demonstrate overall the value and impact that brings, it’s critical for gaining recognition and advancing.”