Scenario: Not asked

As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation:

You ask the team – “What are we doing well?”, and get a response “We are asking all closed questions.”

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning, WIAL Talk

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Comments (12)

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    Kirsty Foster

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    As coach, my response would be reactive to the situation in the group and the stage they were at – it might be beneficial for them to be asking closed questions, there again it may well not. As an overview I would ask feedback from each team member on what we are doing well, then ask how can we improve. If closed question asking is not enabling the group – a group member may well suggest something like asking more open questions, building on questions etc. If this is not suggested I may ask the group what type of questions would most enable the group as we continue working together as a third question asked (which build the triple loop learning!).

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    Aung Pye Tun

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    “We are asking all closed questions,” is definitely an interesting response to the question, “What are we doing well?” As a coach, I think I would first try to understand whether the response was meant to be a complaint out of frustration or the person who answered really believe that it was something the team was doing well. Be it a complaint or a genuine response, I would redirect the question back to the team by asking, “What about the rest of the team?” or “How could we do better?” My intention is to raise the awareness of the team and to help the team to learn about the power of questions?”

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    Paul Duncan

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    It is hard to imagine a scenario where everyone asking closed questions was “doing well”, but if that was the case I would either ask how are we doing on building on one anothers’ questions? Or simply asking “on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is high, how well are our questions doing in stimulating ideas and creating breakthroughs ?”

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    Nicole

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    As a coach, I will lead the team to reflect the quality of their questions and raise their awareness to ask more open questions. After asking the 3 standards questions, I will ask them the following questions:
    – in what situation we use closed questions
    – what other types of questions we can ask
    – what are the benefits of asking open questions
    – what are the better ways to ask for the next questions

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    Don Chan

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    When someone stated that the team was doing well by asking the closed-end question, I will follow up on the impact of asking closed-end question and the timing in applying this type of questions. Open end question may be theoretically doing well in knowing more information but closed end question can be more suitable to this group dynamics.

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    Barbara Sanchez

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    As an AL Coach, and having seen this learning opportunity, I will intervene by asking the team what they think is the impact to the group if they ask only closed questions. After getting their responses, I will follow-up with another question as to what they can do to improve their present situation and what type of questions should they be asking.

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    Bolen Pech

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    As a Action Learning Coach, I would first ask the team “from 1 to 10, how can you rate the quality of your questions in helping the problem presenters define the practical actions taken”? They probably say “Not much information or ideas” and I also can do the looping by asking “if this happens in the team meeting, especially, in the management or board meeting of the company, how it would impact the meeting?” then I can continue with “So how can the team do to make the questions better and problem presenter can benefit more?”

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    Silvia QR

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    As the AL Coach, I believe that closed questions are useful to clarify or check understanding, but they need to move forward to other type of questions. First I would ask the team “what does the rest of the team think?” to check that in the process everyone has a voice. Then I would ask “how have the closed questions helped the team to understand the problem (or reached solution, depending on which phase they are at)?”. If their answer is in the low scale, I would ask “what can we do differently?” If the scale is mid to top, I would ask them “and on a scale of 1 to 10 how have the closed questions helped to foster creative thinking?” and then invite them to be creative with the type of questions “what other creative ways of asking questions can you think of?” “how does the team want to proceed with their questions?” and conclude “Who has the next question”?

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    DrBea

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    My typical response to this is “That is something we are doing well?” The response (with a laugh) is typically – I was thinking what we could do better?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Havan Amin

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    It is important to see the facial expressions of the whole group while my question is being answered by one of the group members. Primary, I will focus on the facial expressions. Next, I will ask them to rate their progress from 1 to 10, based on the closed questions they have asked. (1=low, 10=high)

    After that, I will ask all the group members how this way of questioning could impact the rest of the session.

    I will give all of them the time needed to make their own decision. Also, I will give them an example of how open questions are more effective than closed questions. I would like to do this by giving them an example by means of a short exercise. I will show them how long it would take them to guess an object by asking both open and closed questions. The result will be that they will see that with open questions it is easier and quicker to guess which object it was. Therefore, they will understand that asking open questions is better than closed questions.

    In this way, the group will be able to make their own decisions and move forward with a feeling that they have made the right choices. Life is all about making choices and the most beautiful thing is that you do not always have to be right.

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      Havan Amin

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      ***NEW, IMPROVED VERSION:

      It is important to see the facial expressions of the whole team while my question is being answered by one of the team members. Primary, I will focus on the facial expressions, which will tell how a person thinks or reacts in a certain situation. Based on the expression, you can adjust the following question. Next, I will ask them to rate their progress from 1 to 10, based upon the closed questions they have asked. (1=low, 10=high)

      After that, I will ask all the team members how this way of questioning could impact the rest of the session.

      I will give them the time they need to make their own decision. Also, I will give them an example of how open questions are more effective than closed questions. I would like to do this by giving them an example as a step to a short exercise. I will show them how long it would take them to guess an object by asking both open and closed questions. The result will be that they will experience that with open questions it is easier and quicker to guess which object it was. Therefore, they will understand that asking open questions is more productive than closed questions.

      In this way, the team will be able to make their own decisions to keep asking open questions instead of closed questions. The team has witnessed the effect of asking open questions in the short exercise that I gave them. Life is all about making choices and the most beautiful thing is that you do not always have to be right.

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    Darren Tan

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    I would ask the person, “How has asking closed questions help the team towards solving the problem?”Perhaps the person has a unique perspective. I would follow up by asking the rest, “How else have we done well?” and “How can we do better?”. These questions would open up the options of other questioning strategies which may be more helpful.

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