Long problem statement

You ask the problem presenter to briefly state the problem but the person continues on for an inordinate period of time not only stating the problem but also describing contextual details related to the problem.

Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Comments (11)

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    Carole

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    I’ve run into this difficulty as well. First of all, I’d ask myself, ‘what is an inordinate amount of time”?. If the individual has made a pretty clear statement, and then she is actually answering some obvious initial questions, perhaps the long into is really OK and no intervention is needed.

    In the moment, I would wait until the person has been talking for more than 5 minutes and doesn’t appear to be running out of steam, then, I would interrupt.

    I’d say, “Excuse me but I’d like to step in here for a moment. Let’s see who has the first question.”

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    Edwin Sim

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    I would step in at the given time that the PP should have ended his/her sharing and say this to the PP, ” If you have to describe the problem you just shared in one sentence to this group, what would it be?” And then as the coach, I would make sure the PP keeps to this.

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    Chris Cowan

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    I agree with those above and would that it seems to me that NOT intervening sends not only sends the wrong message, but sends the opposite message of what the action learning process is intended to do. A loquacious PP may be falling into the trap of already “knowing” several relevant facts and he or she just wants to share them so that the group is all “on the same page.” Of course, this is precisely why action learning can be such a great tool, because it allows the group to investigate the relevant facts with their own questions rather than relying on the pre-established answers to the PP’s own self-referential questions. It seems to me that the PP is just another group member (if they are indeed a group member), but in other ways has a particularly unique set of learning challenges put upon him or her when going through the action learning process. Has anyone done research on the particularities of those learning demands for an in-group PP?

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    mavic cortez

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    I will call the attention of the problem presenter and tell him/her that he/she has exceeded the time allotted for him/her to describe the problem to the group. I’ll say, “PP, please hold on to the details first as you will have the chance to share these when the team asks you questions later. In one minute, kindly summarize your problem to the team.” Then, I’ll proceed to asking the group who has the first question after PP has used up her one minute. By framing the time (one minute) and the task (summarizing the problem), I am confident that the team can proceed with the session and that I have asserted my authority as coach.

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    Rob K

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    I think it starts with the set up. I say something like, “Take about one minute to give us a quick summary of your problem. I also want you to give us a headline that captures the issue.” After this if they go on–probably past the two minute mark–it may be more on the directive side, but I would intervene. I’d say something like, “You’ll have plenty of time to go into greater detail throughout the process, but what’s your headline?”

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    sumitbhasin12

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    According to me, there could be two scenarios in this:

    1. My first guess would be to wait for a while and see if the lengthier statements are adding any value in terms of making the problem statement more clear or not. If all the information that the PP is adding is actually helping in clarifying the situation, then I would ask the PP at then end “Now, in one sentence can you please repeat your problem?”.

    2. If all the long talk is nothing just extra information with no potential use, I would respectfully ask the problem presenter “Could you for now just state the problem you want the team to work with in one sentence ?” and tell him if needed that he could add all this information if someone asks him a question regarding this.

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    Darryl Looi

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    I will give the PP up to about an additional minute without verbalising it to the group before intervening. If the PP does not appear to be concluding the stating of the problem, I will intervene and ask the PP to state the problem in one statement and then ask the group “who has the next question?”

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    Jennifer Bryan

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    I agree with the comments above. In the introduction from myself, I ask the problem presenter to sum up the problem in 3 minutes. If they then go over beyond 5, then I would interrupt and ask them to frame it into one sentence.

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    DrBea

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    Thanks for the added scenario!

    This is a very common challenge in Action Learning groups because the problem presenter feels everything they have to share is useful to the group (otherwise they wouldn’t be sharing it). As coach it is not for us to judge what is and isn’t useful.

    There is also the other condition, where some people just don’t know how to stop talking.

    One of our roles as coach is to help the team move forward. We started by asking the problem presenter to take a minute or two to present their view of the problem. Once we get to the two minute mark (roughly) we need to move things along. At this point, I would ask the PP – ok, so in one sentence what is the challenge you would like help with today?

    This quick checkin – moves the team forward and establishes my authority as coach.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    helen E

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    Edwin is spot on with his comments. i feel it’s important that the PP and the entire group stay focussed on understanding what the problem is,rather than inadvertently straying into solving the problem.

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    Neal_Henderson

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    My opinion is in line with many of the replies. When the PP goes to long, asking the simple, “Can you summarize the problem in one sentence?”

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