Case Study

20.1 Scottish Coaching Collaborative

What is the Scottish Coaching Collaborative?

It is a ground-breaking partnership that provides in-house trained coaches to work across public sector organisations in Scotland.

What Does it Provide?

  • An efficient and responsive coaching service.
  • Access to cross-sector internally trained coaches on the coaching collaborative bank.
  • A network to support and nurture a public service coaching culture.
  • Quality assured coaches.
  • Continuous professional development for coaches.
  • A Public Sector Coaching Framework to provide standards and governance.


Public service organisations in Scotland have a history of working collaboratively through a network of CEOs: the Scottish Leaders Forum (SLF). Many years ago Workforce Scotland, a workstream of the SLF, was created to increase collaboration and join up workforce development across public service organisations. Workforce Scotland brings together a range of public service bodies including: the Scottish government, the courts, the health service, the police, local councils, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Education Scotland, the voluntary sector and prisons. The aim was to support the workforce to deliver transformational change through collaborative advantage.

In 2012, a small number of enthusiastic coaches recognised that while there were a number of trained coaches in different organisations, they were being under-utilised. They realised that, if they collaborated, they could: be more efficient and extend the reach and use of the coaches; maintain coaching skills; share their knowledge and resources and really build momentum. They held an event in November 2012, under the umbrella of Workforce Scotland, and invited trained coaches and L&D professionals to see if there was an appetite for partnership and thus the Scottish Coaching Collaborative (SCC) was born.


The first steps were to establish a Steering Group of volunteers to ensure effective governance. David Clutterbuck, a leading authority on leadership, coaching and mentoring within the workplace, offered his support pro bono as a ‘critical friend’ to the Steering Group and team-coached them through the process of designing a framework for the SCC and developing materials for the members of the Collaborative to use, drawing on systems and processes that had already been used effectively by members, for example: application forms for the coaches; guidance about CPD and supervision arrangements; adoption of the EMCC’s (European Mentoring & Coaching Council) Code of Ethics to ensure consistency of process. The Steering Group has become a decision-making body and the chair rotates every two years to ensure against bias.

The coaches were asked to assess themselves against the EMCC’s competences and identify themselves as Foundation, Practitioner, Senior Practitioner or Master Practitioner level. This assessment was then validated by whoever managed coaching in their organisation. Each coach provided a biography for a central database to which the organisational coaching leads had access. They would select three potential coaches to provide the client with a choice.


The framework was launched in November 2013. By March 2017, the SCC had 21 member organisations; there were 27 coaches on the register; six CPD events had been delivered; 83 people had received coaching and many resources (e.g., videos, guidance documents) had been developed. The matching process began to migrate from a personal judgement call to the use of an algorithm to match people electronically, taking into account the client’s needs, geography and so forth. No fee is charged for coaching by one of the coaches because participating organisations have agreed to a reciprocal time bank or skill exchange.

Lessons Learned

  • Each organisation needed to have a clear vision of what they wanted from the collaboration.
  • It was necessary to have a shared definition of what constituted coaching.
  • It was important to respect difference, for example, to respect someone else’s coaching models, experience and qualifications as being equally valid and to recognise that difference is good.
  • You must allow time – for the Steering Group members and partner organisations to get to know each other, to really listen to each other and understand each others’ models, frameworks, approaches.
  • The usefulness of having strategic input from Workforce Scotland. Working under that banner gave the SCC legitimacy.

Benefits Delivered

  • The governance process has ensured a high quality of coaching.
  • The single system approach has ensured consistency.
  • Shared resourcing of development opportunities (CPD and supervision) has offered excellent value for money.
  • Selection of partnership coaches has worked well.
  • The cost compares very favourably with the use of external coaches.
  • A side benefit has been the building of strong relationships amongst the partner organisations.

For further information visit

Discussion Questions

  • What kind of challenges might collaborative working of this kind throw up? What if one organisation provided a lot of high quality coaches but felt it was not getting the same quality of coaching in return?

  • How might a coaching collaborative contribute to and extend the coaching strategy where you work?

  • What issues would you need to consider to manage the coaching contracts from multiple perspectives (e.g., coach and coachee, coach and SCC, coach and organisational sponsor)?