Social Impact

Room to Read

Improving coaching program effectiveness

Room to Read is an education charity whose mission is to increase literacy in low-income countries. The organization provides their network of literacy teachers with explicit and sustained guidance on how to incorporate instructional design into the classroom through training and coaching. Room to Read wanted to ensure that teachers’ training and coaching programs have maximum impact, produce measurable results, and are cost effective and sustainable. Their main challenges were reducing the time it took for teachers to be fully impactful and leveraging the limited amount of time that the coaches could spend with the literacy teachers

We feel incredibly lucky at Room to Read to have had the opportunity to work with Oliver Wyman on two strategic projects this past year. These have brought unique expertise and thought leadership that otherwise would have not been available to our nonprofit organization. The Oliver Wyman teams have helped us to engage more effectively with our teachers in supporting their instructional practices and re-conceptualize our overall technical assistance practice to be more strategic. Thank you!
Dr. Cory Heyman, Chief Innovation officer, Room to Read


We worked hand-in-hand with the client for a period of twelve weeks with the goal of increasing the impact of the coaching program on the teachers’ effectiveness and the students’ learning. We started by reviewing the instruction program they had designed, along with the training and coaching methods they used with the teachers. We then conducted a series of in-depth interviews with twelve teachers and coaches in India and South Africa to understand the real challenges they face and how they work day-to-day. The results were extremely insightful and led us to recommend a behavioral science based solution: the implementation of behavioral nudges to effect real change. This is based on research showing that more frequent and regular interactions are key to sustaining learning and retaining new knowledge and behaviors

Being the organizational effectiveness knowledge manager with a background in organizational psychology enabled me to truly understand the client’s situation from both an organizational and a people perspective. I was able apply key learnings from all of our past projects and experiences into this project with Room to Read. It was refreshing to work with Kevan, and with the client directly, on identifying, analyzing and solving their problem
Maya Mansour-Nauffal, Knowledge Manager, Oliver Wyman


Through our analysis, we identified five areas for Room to Read to prioritize and address in their improvement of the Training and Coaching program: developing a coaching mindset; increasing intercultural awareness; improving teacher assessment and selection; increasing knowledge sharing; and reviewing teachers’ performance management. We also designed a behavioral nudge pilot for Room to Read to implement in order to increase coaching effectiveness and demonstrate the impact of a simple nudge for retaining and sustaining learning. Reaching the end of our engagement, Oliver Wyman provided Room to Read with guidance on how to develop a bank of additional nudges that are replicable and that will provide a cost-effective and impactful method for teachers to sustain learnings and achieve expected outcomes faster and in a more sustainable way.

It was sobering to speak with the coaches in India and Africa and understand their simple daily challenges – it made our work more challenging, but real and impactful
Kevan Jones, Partner, Oliver Wyman