who, what, how, when, why interview




I´m Janet Ahn PhD, Chief Behavioral Science Officer & US President, MindGym

WHAT  did you do ?

I’ve helped to spearhead the development of our latest innovation at MindGym: Performa, a scalable precision coaching platform for large organizations.

Performa allows companies to integrate expert one-to-one coaching from world-class coaches into their people strategies, supporting individuals in their own careers, as well as delivering against important organizational goals.

Using Performa enables companies to change their cultures faster, for example to become more inclusive, ethical, and equitable, and helps get businesses and their people ready for tomorrow, in a world of work which is vastly different from the one we knew in 2020.

Critically, Performa represents a new player and a smarter, more precise, more focused coaching solution for companies – minimizing wasted spend and delivering behavioral change and transformative results at speed.

What makes Performa different from other coaching providers?

The coaching market has grown explosively over recent years, accounting for $14bn+ of business spend, but research shows a vast proportion of this spend is going to waste - something which will become increasingly problematic as the economic climate worsens and companies have to make cutbacks.

This wasted spend is predominantly due to poor practice, a lack of consistent methodology across many providers, and often a failure to align coaching with organizational goals.

Another of the most common fallacies we’re seeing in the coaching market is what we call the “compatibility con” or the “matchmaking myth”: coaching providers that focus their entire product around matching coaches with the perfect coach. This is a complete red herring that wastes time, money and can hinder results: research shows 92% of the impact of coaching is completely unaffected by coach/coachee “likeability” and having a good relationship with your coach can even undermine intended outcomes.

And finally, one of the worst causes of wasted spend on coaching is the number of providers offering lengthy packages that last between 6 and 12 months. Research shows this squanders time and money, often achieving very little beyond lining the pockets of coaching companies. In fact, fewer, shorter, sharper sessions have been shown to deliver greater impact – in particular when it comes to performance, work attitudes and employee retention.

Performa draws on behavioral science and an evidence-based methodology to help companies and individuals achieve their goals fast, across a course of just four 45-minute sessions.

It minimizes wasted spend, supports individuals, helps solve major organizational challenges – and its impact is measurable at both an individual and an organizational level.

In a world which is fast-paced, where we are time-poor, and where businesses need to be sure their investments will deliver a return, Performa ticks every box and represents a new, smarter solution for decision-makers and their people.

HOW did you do it?

Performa is the product of extensive research from our behavioral science team at MindGym on what works and doesn’t when it comes to coaching, as well as smart problem-solving and iteration from our innovations team.

We’ve drawn on in-depth research and behavioral science expertise to find exactly the right methodology and model – delivering highly expert one-to-one coaching digitally at scale, in just four 45-minute sessions.

Beta trials have shown Performance changes behavior in 95% of participants within 1-2 weeks, and within 50% of participants within as little as one week.

About our methodology

A lot of coaching providers fail to base their approach on a solid, evidence-based methodology, which is where their coaching falls down. Others fall into the ‘feel-good’ category: they look great, they feel good, they might even change your mindset – but they fail to translate intention into behavior change. Research shows having good intentions only leads to behavior change one third of the time.

Our methodology is called “precision coaching”, which is composed of three parts: solution-focused therapy, mastery orientation and behavioral enablement.

Solution-focused therapy is pragmatic, forward-looking and solution-focused, as the name suggests; and mastery orientation builds self-efficacy (which accounts for almost 1/3 of the variance in work performance), leading to deeper knowledge and skill development.

Meanwhile, for behavioral enablement, we draw on a proven scientific framework called COM-B, which diagnoses blockers to behavior change and identifies solutions based on three key factors: capability, opportunity and motivation.

Combined, these three enablers help participants make little-and-often, iterative changes in order to rapidly progress towards a ‘big goal’ - rapidly building expertise and improving cognitive flexibility and divergent thinking.

Then we’ve worked with our expert network of more than 300 top-of-the-range coaches worldwide to upskill them in precision coaching. Because these coaches work across MindGym’s portfolio of solutions, from performance management, leadership development and ethics through to diversity and inclusion, wellbeing and engagement, they are skilled in integrating precision coaching into existing organizational goals.

Finally, we’ve gone further than almost all other providers when it comes to measuring impact, tracking multiple outcomes, from reaction (how did I find this?) and internal change (have my blockers shifted?) through to behavior change (have others noticed my behavior has changed?) and organizational outcomes (has coaching shifted financial results, productivity metrics or engagement survey results?)

Most coaching providers don’t measure outcomes beyond reaction: a fundamental mistake, as research shows “enjoying the experience” has very little to do with (and is sometimes inversely correlated with) impact.

Performa goes further, measuring:

  1. Reaction
  2. Internal change: the psychological constructs that predict behavior change
  3. Behavior change: has the individual’s behavior has changed in the real world? Is it a change other are noticing, or that is impacting on the individual’s goals?
  4. Organizational change: we work with clients’ data to measure a chain of impact through to top-level organizational metrics like engagement surveys, financial results and productivity metrics

WHY are you innovating with this product or service?

CHROs need to know that the coaching they invest in will work with the majority of people, and will deliver observable, measurable behavior change.

Having access to all of the metrics we offer with Performa, and knowing our approach is consistent across their organization, gives them peace of mind as well as ROI and stats to take to the boardroom.

We’re really proud of Performa: it has the potential to be transformative both within the market and for the companies using it, helping them prepare for the future of work, without wasting time, money or man-or-womanpower.

What’s more, Performa is designed to be used for some truly noble causes: from making companies more inclusive, equitable and diverse, to improving management ethics, decision-making and company culture, to fine-tuning ways of working to help people flourish and prevent mental health decline.

The reason we set out to do what we do at MindGym is not just to help businesses run more smoothly and productively. It’s to change cultures, help organizations and individuals flourish in the new post-pandemic world, reduce loneliness, isolation, discrimination and disengagement at work, improve employee wellbeing and fast-track career trajectories, with a positive trickle-down effect for employees’ personal lives, families and communities.

Because Performa is designed to be integrated with programs like diversity and inclusion, management ethics and wellbeing programs, it’s about creating new shared realities at work where everyone can flourish. We want Performa to help rewrite the future for organizations and individuals across the world.

WHERE are you from?

I live in the USA, in New York