Outlining the problem in a SPAL

When working with a client on a business problem through action learning, I ask the sponsor or problem owner to answer a number of questions, in writing, before the first session starts. I have created a one page form with the following questions: Describe the problem … describing context, history and some basic data, key people and departments involved. Why is solving this important ? What has been tried in the past, and was this partly successful or not successful at all ? What do you expect of the team, in terms of recommendations only, or recommendations and actual implementation ? What would be your definition of ‘success’ of the team addressing this challenge ? What is your experience with asking the sponsor to describe his/her problem ahead of the first meeting ? Do you use any other questions ?

Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Peter Thailand

CALC since 2013 and started up WIAL Thailand !

Comments (4)

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    Paula Salomao

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    I have never made such a structured discussion with my sponsor or problem owner before the session. I believe this can be a very successful tool!

    Especially the first set of questions: “Describe the problem … describing context, history and some basic data, key people and departments involved. Why is solving this important?” and “What do you expect of the team, in terms of recommendations only, or recommendations and actual implementation?” seems to me that really help the problem presenter to prepare himself for the presentation, it might clarify in his mind his idea of the problem.

    I am not sure if I would go over the other questions because I thinks these could be good questions and good thinking for him/her during the meeting with the group. In addition, I am not sure if I would ask him to write it down. My concern is that the problem owner creates a very strong and concrete idea of his problem and has some difficulty to open his mind during the meeting with the group. I believe this is a very rich process in Action Learning: for the problem owner to have the opportunity to view his/her problem from different perspectives and to re-think his first idea of the problem.

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    William Teo

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    Hi Peter, a good set of opening questions by you. My additional input would be:

    At the start …..

    How would describe your dream business to be like?

    On a scale of 1-10, one being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how would you rate yourself on this dream fulfilment?

    Why do you choose this business? OR What makes you choose this business?

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    Cleo Wolff

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    Hi Peter, I do appreciate your contribution. WE just need to be aware that helps us to understand the situation but when the problem presenter presents the problem, as much spontaneous as he/she can be, the more we get without statements.

    Thanks.

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    DrBea

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    I ask the problem presenter to think about some of those questions – particularly what is making it urgent and what are the bounds on the solution? Another couple question I ask is – How open are you to the problem being different than you originally believe? And How open are you to a breakthrough solution?

    I try hard with the team not to do anything for them that they are capable of doing for themselves.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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