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Private Notes and Journal Entries

This is a facet of functionality that I’ve been deliberately dragging my feet on for a while.

The vision I’ve had of CoachAccountable as a collaborative workspace between client and coach has always assumed, naively perhaps, that everything should be completely open and shared between client and coach within the scope of their relationship.

So I never put much work into special controls/options to make certain content visible to coaches but not their clients, or vice-versa.  Sure, I had the ability to add private comments to stream items, but the partitioning of information between coach and client has remained willfully primitive for some time.

I figured I’d get around to it sooner or later.  As the range of usage of the system gets wider and wider, the genuine need for coaches to keep notes on their clients that were not necessarily for the clients to read was bound to come about. And then, in the last two weeks, I saw 4 requests from 4 different parties all requesting just that:

July 22nd: “I would like to keep notes about my client – future questions, reminders, etc – within my clients file – without my client seeing the note. How do I do this?”

July 22nd: “Where do you recommend the coach log their private notes on their clients?”

July 29th: “How can i save some notes and documents – related to the Coachee.. but not visible to him..”

August 6th: “Any suggestions on how to deal with the need I have of keeping a private (only I can read) journal/log about each client?”

I figured this remarkable when compared against the prior 10 months, during which the request only came up I think twice that whole time.  So it seems like today is a good day to add private journal entries and session notes.

Visible to the coach, not to the client.

Useful reflections on the state of coaching, visible to the coach and not to the client.

So now, for coaches, privacy is as simple as a check box when creating session notes or a journal entry.  If checked, the item will show as private in both the Notes tab and in the stream, and the client will never see it.  Similarly, as you might expect any comments made by the coach on a private item will NOT be shared with the client.

Though I’m slightly remiss to deviate from the model where everything is out and the open shared, without question the ability for coaches to have CoachAccountable as a repository for client notes WITHOUT having them all shared with clients has some seriously useful applications.

All in all a good day of work to take CoachAccountable one degree further in its versatility.  My thanks go out to the four coaches who, unwittingly in concert, tuned me into the importance of this.


  1. Carol Poche

    Amazing to have a product that has such personal, and prompt, response. Your personal touch to this tool makes it even more valuable. Thank you for adding this option — being transparent is good, but I think it is also good for the coach to be able to journal about their sessions, expressing their concerns while fresh, and guiding them towards the next session’s questions and underlying issues that may need to be further addressed.

    You are the BEST!

    August 6, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

  2. Michael Leahy

    John, first let me say that I’m both impressed and amazed at the product you’ve created here. Well done! I’m still in the “try before you buy” mode as I just discovered your service late last night, and have been exploring its capabilities all morning. So far, so good.

    I’m also impressed at your willingness to consider feature and functionality additions suggested by your users. So here’s yet another one related to the above “private journal entry” feature you added. Why not give that same capability to our clients? I mentor (not coach, I’ll explain that later in a a future conversation I hope we can have) men in an area that’s very personal and private to them, and several of my clients are using another service I’ve been subscribed to where they can also choose to either share their journal entry OR keep it private for their eyes only.

    Why do I think this could be a powerful piece of functionality to add? Well, speaking strictly from a marketing and sales perspective, it’s pretty straight forward: if allowing them to use this service to now keep a private journal related to our coaching/mentoring relationship, that means that my clients will be spending even MORE time on this site, deriving MORE value from this service and working with me, and I think that’s a pretty clear win for all of us involved, right? Especially if you’ve already made the investment and written the code to add that functionality to the coach’s console.

    Your thoughts? Anyone else out there agree with me?

    August 25, 2013 @ 10:56 am

  3. John

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the kudos, and for your most thoughtful note! I’ve wrestled with whether or not to allow clients to have a private side of the system, and have thus far waited to see what sort of demand for it would come to my attention. My main hesitation for adding it is that, in many ways, a client logged into CoachAccountable is like a guest in the coaches house. It’s the coaches system to which a client is invited, and so for some it may seem odd to have an expectation of keeping private things in the system of another.

    Indeed it’s technically a cinch for me to make that privacy real for clients (in fact private client comments on Stream items are already in place, but it’s a feature which is SUPER rarely used). Your carefully weighed reasoning marks the second or third time I’ve heard the request for clients to make journal entries, so I’ll grant there is indeed some merit in the feature within the community of CoachAccountable users. Therefore I reckon I’ll add it by the end of this week, so stay tuned!

    Thanks for sharing your input.

    August 26, 2013 @ 9:39 pm