Have You Heard of Professional Co-Development?

In recent years, instead of using consultants to deal with business problems, a new approach involving peers rather than external resources has been recommended: professional co-development.

It is a method that has been around since the late 1990s in Quebec. Instead of using an external consultant to solve problems, it suggest bringing people together, ideally between 4 and 8 workers which may or may not be from the same company and who wish to improve on daily management, and allowing them to find innovative solutions to the problems they encounter.

How does it work?

The meetings take place over several weeks or months, and may sometimes be repeated annually if the approach proves productive to the group. An external facilitator is required as moderator to the meetings. During each session, a participant will embody the customer and lay out one of the problems encountered at work. Meanwhile, other participants become advisors who ask questions, make suggestions, and freely discuss amongst themselves. After a period of 2 to 4 hours, an action plan will be established mutual the mutual agreement of all participants. The customer agrees to keep all participants informed of developments over the course of the following meetings.

“What we see is that the traditional training method has limitations,” says Michel Desjardins, President of the Association québécoise du codéveloppement professionnel (AQCP) and himself a host of co-development groups. “People do not always use concepts they learned in university.”

According to Desjardins, with co-development, solutions are concrete and built for immediate impact.

Benefits for all

“More and more companies rely on leadership teams for customer satisfaction,” states Desjardins. These small groups allow you to benefit from the expertise of each and to transfer knowledge within the field. Managers, engineers, nurses and business leaders, all those who have to make decisions, from mentoring staff to hitting various objectives may find it suits their needs.

And the types of problems addressed are very varied. “It can be a business leader who wants to make sure his expertise is properly transferred to his children, for example, or another who seeks to better motivate a team member to increase sales or develop a service. Even still, a nurse who wants to encourage her colleagues to change their approach when dealing with older patients,” states Desjardins.

This approach, a combination of training and professional practices, offers many advantages to organizations and companies. More economical, it allows peers to mutually benefit from each other’s expertise rather than committing to high-priced outside consultants. In addition, the various models and experiences that come together foster creativity in the approach to dealing with the problem. For their part, participants form a support group that assists each other’s needs while technical or other achievements learned throughout are tested and then applied directly to the corporate job.

Quid pro quo

Of course, this approach requires a strong commitment from group members while also being a source of high motivation. However, we must be willing to share our knowledge with colleagues, under the premise that this sharing will benefit all in the end. In addition, outcomes are not necessarily immediate and obvious. Slowly but surely, progress will become evident though.


By Julie Marcil – 37th AVENUE

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