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686 - Idea: Nano-Coaching and Nano-Mentoring

Learning TRENDS by Elliott Masie - September 22, 2011.
#686 - Updates on Learning, Business & Technology.
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Idea: Nano-Coaching or Nano-Mentoring (Very Short Burst Support)

Today, I am starting the DESIGN of my Welcome Keynote for Sunday night at Learning 2011. Each year, I look at an emerging trend or opportunity for learning, made available as an affordance by new technologies or new behavioral patterns.  This year, one of those is:

“Nano-Coaching or Nano-Mentoring”

Consider the opportunity to provide daily or weekly VERY SHORT coaching or mentoring from a person with expertise to the learner/worker who is attempting to learn or improve a process or behavior.

When I say VERY SHORT, I do not mean 15 minute conversations.  In fact, Nano-Coaching may happen via email or Instant Messenger and could be as quick as 3 minutes.  My source for this model is a good friend and colleague Marshall Goldsmith, who was my coach and would call me every evening for 2 minutes to ask me a series of quick questions, including “How often did you finish the sentence of one of your staff?” or “Did you un-delegate a task to your team?” 

Nano-Coaching could be delivered from a variety of sources:

- Mentoring Call Center (internal or external).
- Manager Delivered.
- Retirees as Contract Mentors.
- Peer within an internal Social Network.
- Crowd-Sourced to a Collaborative Process.

On a very personal note, I have been using Nano-Coaching for a quest to get healthier in my 61st year.  Since March 1st, I have been working with a doctor in Arizona on a changed diet and increased level of exercise. Every day, I enter the specifics of all that I have consumed and any exercise, along with periodic weigh-ins. I get weekly emails with comments, suggestions and even pushes (“stop eating so many avocados - they look healthy but are pretty fattening”). And, every few weeks, we talk for a few minutes.

A number of our Learning CONSORTIUM members have been experimenting with Nano-Coaching as a support or alternative to traditional training approaches.  They are seeing some dramatic increases in effectiveness and even have tracked how Nano-Mentoring can boost average sales per field representative. It is a live version of Performance Support for learning or behavioral change.

We have a lot to consider and experiment with Nano-Coaching, like what technology to use, methodologies, frequency and where it is not appropriate or effective, as well as the global implications in other cultures. 

I am very excited to explore Nano-Coaching.  It has helped me get much healthier, lose 50 pounds and have even more energy. I believe that we can, as a field, develop some very intriguing designs that leverage Nano-Coaching.  I would love to hear your thoughts, reactions or examples. Please send me an email to

To access this article on my Design Blog, go to:

Special Note: We have updated the listing of over 220 sessions to be offered at Learning 2011 - check it out at

Yours in Learning,

Elliott Masie.

MASIE Center Seminars, Events and Services:
* Learning 2011 - Nov 6 to 9, 2011 - Orlando, Florida.
* Membership in The Learning CONSORTIUM
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