Scenario: Inspiration

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

A participant responds to a question with – What inspired that question?

 

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning

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Comments (19)

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    Jim Carter

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    Provided the question is answered in the first instance with a statement, then the person concerend should be able to ask the question next. So I would ask the person to hold their question and answer the question put to them first. Then ask their question.

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    Kelly Johnson

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    I would let them ask that quesiton- sometimes in these group dynamics with the simple rules there are things that people are trying to say – but can’t so they ask a question. If the person’s intuition tells them there is a reason the person asked I would let them find out. But afterwards I would ensure that others answered the question.

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    William Teo

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    During an AL session it’s possible to get a follow-up question like, “What inspired that question?” to a prior question. If this does not disrupt the flow of the session and team members are progressing well, I will not intervene at that moment of time.

    I will note this learning opportunity and ask this person at the end of the session, Mr A, if you can recall, you posed a question, “What inspired that question?” to a question being asked.
    Can you share with the team, what inspired you to ask this question? There could be laughter and also learning on leadership competencies.

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    Colleen Carruthers

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    I’d ask the group what they are noticing and then if no one brings it up, I’d return the group to the ground rules.

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    Joe

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    I think it also depends upon where in the process a question like this gets asked. If it’s in the convergence of ideas and helping generate solutions, I probably wouldn’t respond. If it’s in the very beginning of the session and I had seen a couple of questions on the table go unanswered, I might interject and ask the group what impact that might be having!

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    srolph2015

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    My tendency would be to not intervene and see how it plays out. At the same time, I can see Jim’s point above that a coach might want to ask the participant to answer the question first. In the end, I would just let it go. The question (what inspired that question?) is a powerful one, and it might reflect an emerging recognition by the participant of a new aspect of the problem. It might lead to a breakthrough in the session. Depending on how it plays out, I might bring it up at a check-in. “Did anyone notice when …? What was the significance of …? Now, what?”

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    PeterSeah

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    The question asked carried two perspectives for the coach to decide what to do:
    – 1st perspective – there is a learning point on why the participant think the other participant’s question is interesting or “inspiring” enough for the person to ask “What inspired that question”
    – 2nd perspective – simply ask for answers to the earlier question asked (although there is no clear rule that a question cannot be asked to another question).

    I would take the 1st perspective as there is a learning point for the team to check how such a question, that draws another question, can help the team in the process. I would ask the team if they also felt that way of the other participant who asked the question, then move to ask what is it that they can learn from asking such question, and what they will do to ask such a powerful question.

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    Florence Wan

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    The rules state “Only statements in response to a question”. It doesn’t say anything about restricting questions to another question. The question is a reflective question to all members to listen and learn another team member’s perspective. This is a learning opportunity that can be allowed.

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    azri amin

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    channeling back the question to the team as a learning opportunity. the team members might be surprised by questions that might be beyond their learning expectations. from there the scope has widened and the opportunities for learning is endless

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    Tom Janiak

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    I would ask that person to memorize the question, let the first question be asked and then let that person ask the question about inspiration (hope this makes sense 😉

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    ramgopalan

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    I am not able to ascertain the tone of the question. Perhaps it was asked by someone who has been fairly negative during the session and this was a sarcastic question. Or it was someone who was genuinely appreciative of the previous speaker and posed such a response. In the first instance, I would note it as a learning opportunity & bring it back at a check-in as “What was the impact of …. asking ….?”

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    Will

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    The follow up question is a good question that could elicit much insight. However the original question could be insightful to the problem under discussion too (and we do not know what that is, nor the context giving rise to it being asked, nor anything about dynamics of this group).

    By allowing a response to this subsequent question now, before getting a response to the original question could impact negatively on the person asking the original question.

    I would intervene, pointing out that ‘what inspired that question’ is a good question and asking them to hold on to it until after someone has had a chance to reply directly to the original question.

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    Maggie Murphy Maertz

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    I would track if the first question gets answered, and if not, ask the group “what question is on the table?” if they lost sight of the first question, I would ask if it was answered. The point made about where they are in their work is a good one. If early on I might interject with “how are we doing following the ground rules.”

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    Dennis Sanko

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    My reaction would depend on the situation. if I would see that the second (inspiration) question aims to
    – clarify
    – understand more
    – where does the first question come from
    – point out that something similar was already asked
    I would not intervene.

    If my observations would tell me that the answer to the first questions is more critical, I would intervene with the request to provide the answer to the first question before answering the second one.

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    Lan Nguyen

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    I would quickly intervene to ask that the first quesiton be answered first and then the inspired question be answered second. If there is a shift in the direction of the conversation or a breakthrough, I would ask if participants noticed anything which may have led to that and let them explore it further.

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    DrBea

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    Such interesting responses. There is no rule that a question must be answered – the rule is in order to make a statement it must be in response to a question. A question in response to a question is fine. This is actually my favorite question as it helps me get out of my head and my way of looking at a problem and shift towards understanding the other view. In this situation I would do nothing.

    That said if it were overused or used to avoid answering questions – I would bring up the learning opportunity – I’ve observed several questions that have gone unanswered. Did anyone else notice that? What’s the impact of leaving question unanswered? How do we want to handle it?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Kris

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    Thanks, Dr Bea for bringing to our attention that there is no rule that a question must be answered. I feel that the question “What inspired the question?” is a good and challenging question. Personally, this question prompts the person who asks the question to clarify his perspectives and allow others to express their viewpoints too. I would do nothing in this case. I would note that the first question did not get overlooked as well.

    I would also bring this up as a learning opportunity to ask the team to reflect on the impact of that question, “What inspired the question?” and what they learn from that.

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    abhinav

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    I would do not do anything, i think it a good question to ask.

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    lee anne

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    There is no rule in AL that says that questions cannot be asked in response to questions. Depending on how the question was posed, the participant was probably clarifying the question before that before deciding on how to reply. This will give a more directed and effective response than answering without knowing what perspective the question poser was coming from. That said, I will monitor that there is a response to the initial question posed, after all, it may a good question which can drive the team to a solution. If there isn’t I will intervene with questions like

    – what is the impact of allowing questions to go unanswered
    – (to the original question poser) was your question answered? (answer) if not, do you want (question posee) to answer it?

    I will also make a note of this and at the end of the session I will present it to the team as a learning opportunity. I will ask the person who responded with the question as to “what inspired him to ask that question in response to the question posed to him”. the answer he gives will give much insight and learning for both the person who had initially posed the question as well as the rest of team on the importance of questioning, improving questioning skills/techniques and also improving the quality of questions posed.

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