Scenario: Closed Question

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation:

Early in the process a participant asks a closed question.

 

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning

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Comments (14)

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    Kelly Johnson

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    If they were new to AL I would definately pause the group AFTER the question had been answered. I would ask if anyone noticed the question- I would ask what the impact of it was- then I would ask what they can do as a group if anyone hears another closed ended question.

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    Madelaine

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    Since asking a closed question is not breaking a ground rule, I would listen to see if perhaps a closed question may have been appropriate (e.g., clarification). If not, or if additional closed questions seemed to continue from that person or other group members, I would wait until the 1st intervention and ask the group ‘What is the quality of our questions?’.

    Since I would have covered with the group the criteria for quality questions upfront, and also provided a hand-out for reference as to what comprises quality questions, this would include the use of open-ended questions.

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    Scott Rolph

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    I agree. Closed-ended questions are not ideal, but as a coach it is important to let the participants learn that on their own. I would wait until the first intervention and ask a question aimed at triggering group reflection on the effectiveness questions. I would ask the question Madelaine cites above: “What is the quality of our questions?” If there were an abundance of closed-ended questions, I might ask, “How well are we exploring the depth of the problem?”

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    Jill Bayly

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    Sometimes closed questions are important in order to clarify something the participant is unsure of. If this was not the case, I would apply an intervention by way of a ‘check in’ to see how the group was going. I might ask something like” how does the group sense they are going in terms of their nominated Leadership skills”? If they said “OK”, I might just leave it until more closed questions became evident.

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    Timothy Low

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    Asking a closed question is still a ‘Question’.
    I would wait to see whether it is a consistent behaviour and whether the closed question leads to a good understanding of the situation or clarification.
    I would intervene when it gets habitual and the quality of answers become ineffective to move the solution along.
    Intervention would be asking the Team ‘How does the Team feel about the quality of questions so far?’
    on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not helpful and 10 being most helpful !

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    lyeyk

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    Similarly to Madelaine, asking closed question is not breaking ground rules. There are times where it is appropriate to ask closed question.

    I would continue to listen to the follow up questions and monitor the conversation.

    If there are many closed questions asked, I would intervene by asking:

    a) If “1” is we asked lots of closed question and 10 is we asked lots of open question, what is your rating?
    b) What is the impact of asking more closed questions?
    c) How can we do to ask better questions?

    At the same time, I also need to be prepared to offer additional training on asking question if requested by the group.

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    Maggie Murphy

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    I would wait to see if it is a trend. if it is a trend, then intervene and for a process check, and ask, how are we doing as a group, what could we do better. if no one identifies this trend (and depending on other trends) I would ask – how are the quality of the questions.

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    Porntip Jakwichtamrong

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    I would continue to monitor the conversation. If asking close-ended questions affect the quality of the conversation, then I’d intervene and ask the team how asking such questions impact their conversation. Then ask the team for action(s) they can take to address it.

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    ChauChyiTai

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    Asking a single closed question does not harm the learning process, in fact this will offer a good opportunity for learning.

    If this persists on or if other participant also ask closed questions, then I would intervene by asking the team “hi guys, how do you feel the questions being asked so far been helpful in discovering perspectives or generating insights?, “what kind of question do you guys like to see being asked?”

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    Wai Ling Ho

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    If it is recurring and the team is not making much progress, I will intervene by asking the team, “On a scale of 1 (lowest) – 10 (highest), how much progress has the team made towards understanding/ solving (depending on which stage they are at) the problem?” When team members give a low score, I will pose a follow-up question, “Have we been hearing more open or close-ended questions being asked?” and “How does this (asking close-ended questions) affect the quality of the discussion?” I will then ask what might be some open-ended questions that can bring the discussion forward to the next level by generating deeper insights?

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    PeterSeah

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    Asking a closed question would tend to generate a direct answer of “yes” or “no” flavour. It would be less preferred that participants constantly adopt such a questioning technique during the Action Learning session. However, a closed question, if used correctly, can be useful to bring out a definitive answer to the problem situation.

    In this case scenario, the close question is asked in the early stage of the Action Learning session. I would be on guard to intervene if the participant repeat this routine of closed questioning, as this can lead degenerate the richness of the discussion and also learning. At that instance of the first closed question, I may NOT intervene yet so as to allow the discussion to develop abit more since it is still at the early stage sharing and learning.

    If this closed questioning routine repeats, I will intervene to ask the members : (1) what kind of questioning technique was used sofar (2) what have the members noticed the quality of the answers or responses to this closed question (3) what should the members do more to generate more ideas and discussion.

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    Adam Walz

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    I agree with the other comments above that if the close-ended question seems to produce clarification / learning, then there is no action needed from a coach. The goal of course is to have the group become more aware of the questions that they are asking each other and over-time increase the quality of these questions. Personally, I would ask the group – what questions have been the most powerful thus far? What do you notice about these questions? How can we ask even more powerful questions moving forward? I also think Timothy and Wai Ling’s approach of asking ‘on a scale of 1 to 10’ how would you assess the quality of our questions.

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    DrBea

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    What I’ve taken to doing in these situations, particularly with new Action Learning teams, is as soon as the closed question is asked – I ask the questioner – Did you intend that to be a closed question? If they say no – I ask them to rephrase it. If they say yes – the responder has been made aware that the person is really just looking for a yes or no.

    I’ve found the intent question to be very powerful to get participants to think about what information they are actually after.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    vganesh

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    As a ACL, one of the most important role is to be ‘Neutral’. In this situation, i would definitely push back the questions to the team. “Team shall you agree to response to a closed question”? If the team agrees, then I would allow it.

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