About the Leave in MAWL

Today in a meeting, Curtis Sergeant (a well known DMM trainer) discussed the “Model, Assist, Watch, Leave” coaching dynamic. Among many useful points, two especially stood out as helpful answers to questions I’ve heard voiced before:

First: Consider the ‘MAWL’ as a coaching dynamic, not as a relational dynamic. You could be coaching an individual or group of individuals on many different things (as an example, I might be coaching one of my kids on study skills and computer file management skills. The MAWL could be viewed as stages of the coaching process—not the relational dynamic. In this sense, at the ‘Leave’ stage, we are ‘leaving’ the topic in their hands—they can come back to me if they have a problem, but I’m not going to be proactively addressing it with them at this point. We stay in relationship and move on to other subjects.

Second: consider the time allotments at each stage. In his view, time spent in the ‘Model and Assist’ stages was minimal—perhaps on the order of three months. It doesn’t take long to model a skill, or to assist someone in its development. The ‘Watch’ stage can be far longer – perhaps years. This is the phase during which the skill can be developed, refined, fine-tuned. Curtis noted that we often take too long in the Model/Assist phases (more directive) and not nearly enough time in the Watch period.

He suggested reproduction of the skill (the point where the person I’m coaching tries to help others reproduce the skill) should happen very early on – perhaps just as you are transitioning from Assist to Watch. This determines the rate of reproduction (see the chart below).

  • If people take 18 months to reproduce a disciple / group, at the end of 10 years you’d have something like 64 disciples.

  • If people reproduce a disciple every 3 months, at the end of 10 years you’d have something like a billion.

On the other hand, the length of time spent in ‘Watching’ and fine tuning can determine the long-term quality of what is reproduced.


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