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Piping Worksheet Answers into Actions?

Hot on the heels of releasing the ability to have Worksheet answers populate Metrics, I got a question from Laura Watson of Venture Coaching, which asked if a similar thing could be added to support setting up Actions:

I am building a project planning worksheet for my clients. We use this on a quarterly basis to plan personal and professional projects together. The worksheet includes an area for creating action steps.

On the worksheet I’m creating in CA, I will have my clients fill in their action steps using the simple text field. I’m wondering if, at some point, it would be possible to have these action step fields linked to actual actions so we don’t have to enter the data twice.

To that I replied:

Good question, and it’s in many ways a good idea.  On first consideration however the answer is PROBABLY not ever.  The reason is that Actions within CoachAccountable are so much more than just what would be filled out in the single line: in addition to the “what”, CA also tracks the “by when”, reminders, and optionally which project the action falls under.

Since the complete data entry process for a given action is so much more complex, I doubt I’ll support having worksheet inputs pipe into Actions (to wit, setting up Worksheets to pipe into Metrics with a comment is complex enough to get right when creating a worksheet template! :)

Still, perhaps at some point I’ll allow simple action creation with just the what and by when, perhaps a date picker type of input to be put into the form-based worksheets.  It’s good food for thought!

She thanked me for the reply, and liked the idea using the worksheet for the “what” part and having clients fill out the rest in the Actions tab.

With a little more time to mull on it, I added the following in reply:

Since writing you another thought does occur to me: you MIGHT consider an alternate approach in which you in your worksheet prompt your clients to more literally make their action plan, rather than type in a few one-liners that don’t have the same sort of supported reality.  After all, Actions are living things with due dates and alerts, and optionally (ideally) have project-based organization with progress meters which satisfyingly fill up as things are marked off.  By contrast, it’s an uphill battle to get clients to go back and read an already completed worksheet.

So you could skip the double-data entry, by preferring instead that your clients make actual Action plans to just typing into a worksheet.  It won’t be that much an interruption as it’s guaranteed they’ll be logged in already, and 3 Action Projects will be perfect to organize the 3 Benchmarks.  Extra bonus?  A worksheet once submitted CAN’T be edited unless you send it back their way, but Actions can be added to and/or modified at any time as a quarter progresses. :)

I was honored to get back a simple reply:

Great ideas, thanks for this!

And I was honored not just because I was able to be helpful and not just because I avoided putting another new feature on my to-do list (both super cool, don’t get me wrong).  But rather because here was an established way of doing things, and there exists within CA a way to do it better if only by being willing to restructure a little.

More generally speaking, it occurs to me that any established part of your coaching style is worth revisiting to see if it can’t be tailored to how CoachAccountable works.  Not for CoachAccountable’s sake, because who cares, right?  But for the sake of making your coaching better in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

Sometimes that takes shifting out of an established way of doing things, disrupting inertia in favor of giving your clients a better experience.  Don’t hesitate to ask if you could use a little guidance in how to bring your style of coaching to life with the tools of CA–with a little creativity there are some real wins to be had.

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