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Group Coaching Programs

The 2 Types of Group Coaching Programs

Eleanor Beaton

Reading Time: 10 Minutes

In this blog post, you will learn the two main types of group coaching programs.

You’ll also discover how to make better decisions about which type of group coaching program to BUY and which type of BUILD, based on your business needs and learning goals.

The Group Coaching Program: A Powerful Opportunity to Learn and Earn

Creating a group coaching program is a powerful way to grow your income, multiply your impact, and leverage your time. Meanwhile, enrolling in a group coaching program is a powerful way to learn new skills and perspectives, and forge productive working relationships with smart people who share your passion for growth. 

Online education and group coaching programs are BOOMING. According to research shared by the World Economic Forum, the global market for online education will rise from $144 billion USD in 2019 to $350 billion USD in 2025. But not all group coaching programs are created equal.

Two types of GRoup Coaching Programs

The 2 Types of Group Coaching Programs

There are two types of group coaching programs: algorithmic coaching programs and heuristic coaching programs.

Let me define:

An algorithm is a set of instructions for solving a problem or accomplishing a task.

Therefore, an algorithmic group coaching program will teach you a specific set of instructions for solving a problem for which there is often ONE clear solution (i.e. How do I create SEO-friendly videos for Youtube? How do I edit videos? How do I make an Instatwerk Reel?) 

Heuristic (hyoo-riss-tic) means enabling someone to discover or learn for themselves.

Therefore, a heuristic group coaching program provides a container and structure for you to solve a problem for which there may be multiple solutions you need to choose between (i.e. How do I generate more revenue and work less? How do I become a more effective CEO? How do I structure my business model for maximum impact and output?)

Algorithmic Group Coaching Programs VS Heuristic Group Coaching Programs

Group Coaching Programs

Why Would You Take or Develop An Algorithmic Group Coaching Program?

If you want to learn or teach a SPECIFIC skill.

Algorithmic group coaching programs are prescriptive in nature: follow these exact steps in the specific order and way I tell you to do them.

The emphasis in algorithmic coaching programs is for you to be a follower.

Sometimes, this is a really good thing. Years ago I purchased an algorithmic coaching program designed to help me create SEO-optimized Youtube videos. I learned a specific, tangible skill.

In short, algorithmic programs work best when you have identified a specific skill you want to develop that DOES NOT require a ton of critical thinking.

Personally, I think algorithmic coaching programs are easier to sell because the outcome is so super specific.

We used to offer an algorithmic group coaching program – The Preeminent Podcast – this was a step by step course on how to launch a podcast. (We don’t sell it anymore because it was too hard to keep it updated).

Why Would You Take or Develop a Heuristic Group Coaching Program?

If you want to truly elevate and generate long term growth in an area. If you want to drive long term success by starting with the end in mind.

Heuristic coaching programs emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity. The focus is on tackling trickier problems for which there are multiple solutions (i.e. scaling a business, anyone?)

The emphasis in a heuristic coaching program is for you to be a creator and leader. The focus is on solving bigger, structural problems that require critical thinking, creativity and deeper strategy.

Let me be clear: a strong heuristic coaching program is clearly focused, well-structured, there are clear outcomes and it’s not just people talking about their “lived experience” and “jurrrrrneeees” ad nauseum. (To learn more about how to build successful group coaching programs with a strong niche, register for our free educational webinar.)

In fact, embedded in the BEST heuristic coaching programs are algorithmic elements. Example: our Incubator program for female founders includes a resource library with 200+ “LEAPS”, which are tactical how-to instructions on things like “How To Conduct A Focus Group”, “How To Create An Effective Sales Webinar” and templates for hiring your first executive assistant.

I personally find heuristic group coaching programs much more challenging AND satisfying to create and run. You are teaching concepts and frameworks versus cookie cutter formulas. You need to provide clear guidance and structure AND skillfully create a culture and a mechanism for people to forge their own unique pathway with your learning tools.

You attract more discerning participants. Therefore, you need to build a more sophisticated team to run and scale them.

All this makes life challenging, invigorating and fun. IMO. 


Why So Many People Get Burned with Group Coaching Programs And What To Do About It.

There is a huge demand for online professional development that isn’t going anywhere. Research published by the OECD found that global searches for terms such as “online learning” are 4 times as high today as they were before the pandemic.

Group Coaching PRograms

But demand and quality don’t go hand in hand. Evidence from Massive Open Online Courses shows completion rates are less than 10%. And while there’s a difference between a self-paced online course and a group coaching program, when a participant invests in a group coaching program but doesn’t complete it, they are less likely to refer others to the program, or purchase from you again.

In short, if you want to scale your income and impact with a group coaching program, you will need to deliver a quality experience. 

We hear from and work with women who have both invested in coaching programs AND have or want to create GREAT group coaching programs. (Just so you know, 40% of our clients DO NOT run coaching programs but scale their service-based businesses!)

We hear from a lot of women who have had previous bad experiences with group programs. Their complaints usually fall into two categories:

Group Coaching Program Complaint Bucket 1: Lack of Personalization 

I felt like a number.

I didn’t get personalized help.

The system didn’t work for me.

I got sucked in by a charismatic personal brand, but I never got to hear from her/him/them.

I felt like I “had” to follow the system or I was “doing it wrong.” 

Group Coaching Programs

These types of complaints happen when someone who NEEDS a heuristic group coaching program signs up for an algorithmic group coaching program. (A “fit” issue that should ideally be addressed in the SALES process.)

It also happens when a program is presented as an heuristic group coaching program but is actually an algorithmic group coaching program. (A marketing issue that should be addressed with a strong “bounceability” system, boundaries and effective disqualification systems).

What the above “complainants” NEED is deeper, guided strategic support to elevate them and solve larger structural problems that need solving to get to a higher level of success. They needed HEURISTIC SUPPORT but they signed up for ALGORITHMIC SUPPORT.

Which brings me to the second, less common category of complaints:

Group Coaching Program Complaint Bucket 2: All Talk, No Action 

It was fun, but I didn’t learn anything.

I’m not really sure that I got any clear takeaways.

I really wanted to figure out how to do Instatwerk reels and I didn’t learn that.

Group Coaching Programs

These types of complaints happen when you someone who NEEDS an algorithm coaching program signs up for a heuristic program.

And this brings me to the big quandary of group programs:

Because living and thriving in the 21st Century economy requires creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, most people need heuristic programs in order to generate long-lasting results…


Algorithmic programs are often easier to sell and create.

Group programs

In Conclusion

You need to be clear on which type of coaching program you either NEED or want to CREATE.

As a group program CREATOR, this clarity ensures you market, sell and structure your program correctly to ensure client success.

And as a group program PURCHASER, this clarity ensures you have the learning experience you NEED.


How To Take The Group Coaching Program Insights From This Article Further

At Safi Media, our coaching programs are heuristic AND combine tactical, how-to supports and resources for you AND your team members.

Group Coaching Programs

Our coaching programs are designed to help female founders build strong 7-figure ecosystems that NOURISH the planet.

You can learn more about our growth philosophy in this white paper.

To schedule a focused, insightful, free, and no-pressure 1:1 conversation to explore how we can work together to help you create a company that builds long term impact, wealth and freedom (we call that C.I.A.) I encourage you to reach out and book.

Group coaching programs safi media

Would you rather listen to this story? Check out our top-ranked Podcast, Power + Presence + Position.

Thanks for reading.  If you know a female founder who would benefit from this post, please share it with them!