Scenario: Prioritized Problems

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

The organization has prioritized multiple problems for multiple teams to work on. The teams are arguing that they all need to work on the top priority problem.

 

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning

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Comments (10)

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    monthon sorakraikitikul

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    This is the great chance to let a team work on what is the real problem on the top priority problems. The first session of Action Learning could work on this issue, as well. The important thing is do not try to get the solution without any learning.

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    Marina Mazi

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    As action learning coach, it is not my role to change the rule of the organization about the problems distribution or priorization. So, I would work with each team by asking them the following questions:
    – In what ways this problem you are working is related to the top priority problem?
    – How can you connect the problems in which you are working with those you consider the top priority problem?

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    Verieux Mourillon

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    The coach could also do an Action Learning session to resolve this conflict and have all the key players buy in to the way forward.

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    annemartinc

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    It is my understanding that the coach’s role is to work with the organization to set up the Action Learning program. It is clear that there is more interest and investment by the team members in the top priority problem. The level of engagement of the teams that do not work on the priority problem may not be as high if they work on a problem that they do not see as a priority for the organization. I would meet with problem sponsors and presenters about the situation and ask number of questions to determine if the other problems are critical and urgent and good problems for Action Learning. If the other problems are not a good fit for Action Learning, then I would work with the sponsors to identify other problems for the teams to work on.

    The sponsors may also need to assign a problem to a team instead of giving them a choice in order to move forward.

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    Jean_1959

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    This has happened to me with three Action Learning projects dealing with company strategy. The participants were part of the Leadership Development program and most wanted to work on the project that would have the most exposure, however, that was not a reality.

    I was working internally, as an external consultant, but had been with the company for over 2-years and had built up the credibility with the players. We had the Sr Leaders of each project come to a meeting with the participants of the Leadership Development program, and talk at a high level about the project. We then asked the participants to rank order the projects they wanted to work on, and were very clear that they may not be selected for their top rated project.

    We made recommendations to the Sr. Leaders based on how the participants ranked their projects, the participants 360 and Hogan assessments. The Sr. Leaders then selected the individuals for the project.

    We were very up front with the selection process, while some were disappointed that they were not selected for their first choice, they all agreed to the selection process.

    However; I’m not sure this is the responsibility of the Action Learning Coach. I agree that we work with the project sponsor on team selection (skills, diversity, etc..) Once the teams are selected, our job is to work with our assigned teams on the selected project.

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    Paul Bana

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    I understand the list of prioritized problems in some way was presented to the teams when the conflict arose, however there were no steps made to assign the problems to the teams.
    Further on the input from Verieux Mourillon, I would feed back this observation to all teams and ask what would be the best way to deal with this situation. Suggested solutions would be presented in a common space, in a similar way the list of problems was made public,
    Depending on communication practices in the organisation and experience with AL, this could be done through self managed AL sessions, an online communication “whiteboard” or else

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    Elcee Asuncion Villa

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    I guess it depends on the organization’s objective for this workshop. Assuming they told me that: (1) all issues need to be addressed in that session; and (2) there is a specific problem owner/presenter for each issue – then I would have made a mistake in my brief and need to correct this.

    If this is so, I’ll probably first lighten the mood in the room by cracking a joke (like geez how many XYZers will it take to change a light bulb…). An then say that in the next 2 hours, they do actually need to address all the problems/challenges/issues listed. How would they prefer to go about this?

    ********
    In future, before I go into a workshop I will ensure that I’m clear about the mandate and discuss the possible impact of this with the sponsor. In this case where multiple problems need to be addressed by the different groups –
    * Do they want each of the problems addressed in this one session, and therefore each team needs to pick a unique problem? OR
    * Do they prefer each team to pick one that they feel most passionately about, and if all teams pick the same problem this could mean a few different viewpoints to the same one issue.

    Either one will work depending on the needs of the client. Both will provide learning opportunities. After clarifying their preference and the rationale for it, then we can discuss a strategy for how the teams are split up, which staff “owns” each of the said issues and can be the problem presenters, etc.

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    dr balan dass

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    As an AL coach, I would get the team to priortiize the problem by asking them this question:
    ‘which problem, if solved, will give you results?’
    -all organizations wants to get results
    -busy problem solving, doesn’t mean getting results

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  • Avatar

    Ina Sugiarto

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    coach asks the team “which issue are most important?” after team answer “do everybody agree whether that problem become the most prioritize?”.

    If the team did not find agreement, coach will give alternative solution with asking “can we do a vote?” with the alternative will make the AL session effective and easier to find priority.

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  • Avatar

    DrBea

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    Many years ago I had a workshop where we started with a demo that we identified the top challenges of the organization. We then split into 2 teams, my understanding was that one team would take the first problem the other the second. Both were great problems and the participants were divided between the teams to insure similar representation from the departments involved in the project. Much to my surprise the teams were very vocal about not trusting the other team to come up with a solution they could accept. Ultimately, I allowed them to make a competition of it – both teams working on the same project. We left 90 minutes at the end of the day to reconcile the differences. The teams worked diligently on the project. When it was time for each team to present their solution, a representative from each team posted their solution in the front of the room. As each team read the solution the other posted you could have heard a pin drop – the solutions were virtually identical.

    The most vocal person from earlier in the day said – “Wow, we could have gotten twice as much work done. I could have trusted them.”

    Since then I include this story when I think the situation might arise.

    Where teams needed to be divide among projects I’ve used a method similar to Jean’s.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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