I stumbled on to a great little untold story of a coaching success. In early August, I finally got around to watching the Walt Mossberg & Kara Swisher interview of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates from D5 last Spring (free iTunes video podcast here, but you can probably find it elsewhere too). First off, it includes some old video in the intro with a little skit from 1984 with Mitch Kapor and a very young Bill Gates. That said, the intro continues and it takes 8 minutes until the interviewing really starts. The fulll 90 minute video is definitely worth watching for anyone who spent 10 years or more working or playing in the Windows or Mac ecosystem... maybe some good history for Gen Y's too.

For me, the interesting surprise came 01:26:00 (88 min) into it. Steve casually mentions the Apple one to one program, which I had never heard of before. For $99 a customer can register for a single membership that allows up to 1 hour of 1:1 training each week for a year. (OK, technically it is 50 minutes to 1 hour, but you can ask your lawyer or psychiatrist how that works.).

In just 1 year of operation the one-to-one program scaled up to an annual run rate of 1 million hours per year. ALL of that training is delivered in Apple retail stores. That is a LOT of 1:1 coaching. It also seems to shatter the myth that elearning is the only way to effectively scale training.

Here's an exercise for the reader:

  1. How many hours of 1:1 coaching could or should your organization realistically scale to deliver?
  2. Would you consider 1:1 coaching formal or informal learning?
  3. How could collaboration tools, social networking and web conferencing help it scale even better?

Comments gladly accepted.