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Visual Explorer™: Need a Coach? Try an Avatar

May 15, 2009

Need a Coach? Try an Avatar

A snapshot of a CCL coaching session in Second Life
Reprinted from the CCL Leading Effectively e-Newsletter, April 2009.
Contact Cresencio Torres
Looking for a coach? Planning a meeting across time-zones? Hosting a conference, running a workshop or training employees? If so, an avatar may be at your service. In the not-so-distant future, virtual worlds may be the go-to technology for getting work done.

It is "early pioneering days," according to Forrester Research, but "Virtual worlds like Second Life,, and more business-focused offerings are on the brink of becoming valuable work tools." Forrester predicts that, within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today. Tech consultancy Gartner, too, is predicting the growing popularity of virtual worlds: 80 percent of Internet users will be in a virtual world by 2011.

Virtual worlds open up whole new ways for people to interact. But the technologies may also influence what people communicate, how they innovate and what they learn, says CCL's Cresencio Torres. So CCL's early forays into Second Life are focused on both doing and learning.

For example, CCL's innovation group designed a campus in Second Life for coaching and feedback research. We conducted our first coaching and feedback alpha test in February. The coach and coachee spent three hours "in-world" interacting and using real world assessment data. (The picture below shows the two in the Visual Explorer room selecting a picture that began the feedback process.) Through the process, Torres and his colleagues learned a great deal about avatar interaction, focus and sharing of information and goal planning.

"Unexpectedly, we realized that we needed to move beyond the limitations of our current understanding of coaching. It was a major breakthrough in thinking about the entire feedback process and the possibilities that exist once you dramatically change your experience," says Torres. "Maybe in the future, for instance, coaching isn't called coaching at all, but something else."

Millions of Second Life users will have access to a CCL Network and Commercial Island in the summer of 2009. It will be the only Second Life leadership space created for both research and commercial use. Our avatars will see you there soon!

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