Scenario: Obvious Question

As an Action Learning Team Coach how would you handle the following situation: Listening to the team you realize an obvious question they are missing. If they would just ask “blah blah blah” the true nature of the problem would become clear to everyone.

Tags: Action Learning Coach

Trackback from your site.

Comments (10)

  • Avatar

    Gail Finger

    |

    I would bite my tongue! Each team goes through it’s own process and works at it’s own pace. My experience is that teams get to the root of the problem through the quality of their conversations, not by asking the question that the coach has in mind at a particular moment in time.

    If they are doing well with the quality of their questions, I would not intervene at that moment and let them continue. If an intervention on the quality of their questions is needed, it might be a good time for that.

    When I’ve had a similar thought in the past about thinking that I know the perfect question for them, I used the following intervention with great success:

    As the session was coming to a close (but before processing on the Leadership competencies) I intervened by asking “What lingering questions do you have that you wished you had had time to ask today?” Those questions are captured and put on a flip chart for the following session. People have come up with some very powerful questions as a result of that intervention, and even if they don’t ask the exact question I had in mind, they eventually get to where they need to go!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Philipp Werenfels

    |

    Gail offers a great answer. I agree with her response because my responsibilities as an Action Learning Coach are to focus on the team’s process and not to participate in providing the solution. The Action Learning Coach may or may not have the correct answer, yet, the team will eventually. I like Gail’s idea of how to end the session – Asking the team members to write down: “What lingering questions do you have that you wished you had had time to ask today?” This will keep the participants motivated and helps them develop their action items for the follow up meeting.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Cleo Wolff

    |

    I also agree about Gails’ great answer. But as I am straight to the results, in some way I would ask them, during the interventions “What is the quality of their questions?” “In scale of 0 to 10, how are they going towards to the true nature of the problem?” If they say It is OK, I just keep myself quiet. But if they start to realize they could be better, I would ask What can be done better?

    Cleo

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Joe Sclafani

    |

    I agree with Gail. It’s important to trust the process; our role as coach, as I understand it, is to facilitate that process by focusing on the quality, not content, of the questions, and by helping them reflect on what they are learning from their experience of the process.
    In addition, I question the judgment that there is an “obvious” question that is being “missed.” My experience has been that this may certainly be the case in some instances, but not all. In others, there have been some underlying dynamics that prevent the question from being raised at that time, or in the way that the AL coach thinks it should be raised. All the more reason to allow the group to arrive at the question at their own pace and in their own way.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Danny Slater

    |

    I am mindful of the dual nature of action learning – action AND learning. And much of that learning is in the doing (falling into holes, reflecting back on the fall, climbing out of the hole, etc…)

    From an Action perpsective – an intervention may be of assistance
    From a Learning perspective – hmmm, not so sure about that. Moving into the territory of facilitation?

    On reflection, I believe Gail’s response is not only helpful, but one that (as a new coach) I will file away for future use. I like this script – a lot.

    If this were a ONE-OFF session, with no prospect of follow-up, I would be inclined to intervene with a question of similar ‘gail-like tone’, to the problem presenter:

    ‘As we are nearing the conclusion of our time together, is there one question that you would like US to ask of you?’

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Dorothy Tsui

    |

    I may ask the problem presenter (MPAL) or the whole team (SPAL) in the middle of the session, e.g. “on a scale 1-10, how helpful are the questions for the team to understand/ solve the problem. Then I will ask the PP (“how does he/ she want to be helped?”) or team (“what can do better to help clarifying/ solving the problem?”)

    As an AL coach, I don’t think we should impose our thinking on the team but to encourage the team to reflect whether they are on their right track.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    June Ngan

    |

    As an Action Learning Coach, we have to constantly be mindful that the learning process is for the team. Every team learns at it’s own pace and it is important that we allow it to run it’s own course. As an AL Coach, we should only intervene when there is a learning opportunity. If the team members are struggling with the quality of the questions, then it might be an opportunity for an intervention. However, if they are comfortable with the flow of questions, I might do as Gail mentioned.
    In the Asian context, team members tend to be very polite with the initial set of questions posed. Midway they might tend to realise this way they are not helping the problem presenter as much. Thus in this sense, when the coach intervenes on the quality of the questions, team members then open up and realised that it is crucial to ask critical or obvious questions.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    leerebec

    |

    I also agree that the learning process is with the team. If we wait a little longer, someone will ask that question (often not the one we thought of) that helps bring clarity to the true nature of the problem. I might also have the group get up and draw the problem if they seem to be stuck. That might help to shift their thinking in a different direction and unlock some of the group wisdom.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Deborah Keene.

    |

    The hardest part of being a coach in the ALT is not being able to ask a question that you, the coach, thinks might clarify/open things up. That said, adhering to the process and assisting with the quality of the process is our role. I loved Gail’s idea of having the team document lingering questions at the end. I’ve used “q-storming” in the middle of sessions and that will sometimes shift the direction of the conversation. It is the team’s project and their direction to choose.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    DrBea

    |

    Some really great answers! Unless something else is happening, I’d do nothing. I’ve discovered as often as not that my ‘clear understanding of the problem’ was not where the team finished up. As this has happened it’s become easier to keep my mouth shut, and to be more empathetic of the team members as they struggle with letting go of their perception of what the problem really is.

    The other temptation to avoid is to give them my tools for moving forward – such as drawing a picture of it, or the q-storming that was mentioned.

    If we are at an appropriate time to write down the problem, I would do that. Assuming that the team felt they were not at concensus I’d ask – what can we do to help us get to consensus.

    Although the problem presenter likely owns the problem, it is important for the team to come to consensus – not agree with the problem presenter. If the time to conclude the session is nearing, I’ll ask the problem presenter – Given that in xx minutes I’ll be asking you what actions you are going to take, what would be of most help to you for the remaining time we have? Some problem presenters respond, I’ve gotten some great ideas I’d like to continue digging into it and I’ll identify my own actions. Others have said – I’d like to get some suggestions as to what I can do?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

    Reply

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Conference Schedule Update

Please Note

The above WIAL Global Conference 2017 Schedule is subject to change.

Planning Your Conference

Please refer to the conference schedule on the WIAL China website for any last minute changes.

Click Here