Scenario: Problem Presenter Reiterates Exactly the Same Problem

What do you do as coach if the problem presenter brings along a pre-typed problem statement to use at the beginning of the session, and then reads this out again when asked during the first intervention to write down what they think the problem is now?

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Comments (12)

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    Saan

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    Ifthe problem presenter was the last one asked to describe the problem, its not appropriate to get them to rewrite the problem so I would ask, “Taking into account the discussion we’ve just had, can you please succintly rephrase the question in your own words”. Then I would continue the process asking about the level of agreement.

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    Tracey Odenwelder

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    I would aske them to rephrase or rewrite the problem in one sentence (two at most).

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    Simon Hardiman

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    I would ask the individual to follow process and write the problem statement again in their own words. They may just rewrite their typed statement in which case I would follow the standard questioning ‘do we have consensus on the problem statement?’ It may be that the pre-typed statement was perfect and all agree with the wording after 10 minutes discussion, or the team may not have consensus in which case I would ask ‘How might the team best use the time available to reach consensus on the problem statement?’ moving on to ‘who has he next question?’

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    Kathleen Holmes

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    Similar to Simon, I’d definitely ask them to physically write the problem statement again. In a recent CALC2 session we ran for some colleagues, Bea Carson was coaching a demo and did something that I’ve now incorporated into my toolkit. I was the problem presenter for the demo and she had me physically rewrite the problem statement. She made note of that fact that the act of writing out our thoughts may give us new insights and wouldn’t you know it, I started to rewrite what I had verbatim, but then had a huge ah-ha moment and got to a better breakthrough on what the REAL problem was. I’m a believer… there is power in writing!

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      Rahul

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      Possibly expectations of the AL sesison could be managed in the pre-work with the problem presenter, and with the participants, so that they know not to expect one leader identifying leadership skills before embarking on the problem description should also help the group. I am not sure whether this is a group or individual problem and think this might have bearing on how you would respond. If it was a group problem, you could ask in advance who will take responsibility for recording the actions this is quite directional and not all coaches would want to use this approach with all problems.

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    Dee Handyside

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    This has actually happened to me as a Problem Presenter, when 10 minutes from the start, I still had the same problem and no discussion had made me see otherwise. I felt that I needed to read it out again to clarify the problem. The Coach let that go ahead and because I hadn’t changed it, the group listened more intently and came up with some great solutions for me.

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    Hermann Funk

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    If there is consensus that the problem statement as read out is the real issue, I’d encourage the group to focus on potential solutions by carrying on with the process of questioning.

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    Maggis

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    I would encourage the team to ctoinnue questioning and drop the concept of a leader’ as the questionning and answering will bring forward more information and may help the team decide on a suitable direction. I would follow the process and interject at the 10 minute stage with the usual do we have concensus on the problem? Yes / No’ followed by individually writing down the problem statment. Near the end of the session I would ask the problem presenter what are the next steps the group will take. If they are still struggling with the concept of a leader I would ask questions along the lines of How well defined are the teams roles and responsibilities in terms of getting the next steps completed?’

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    DrBea

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    When the coach asks everyone to write their current understanding of the problem – everyone must write it down – even if they think they are going to write the same words. As Kathleen mention funny things happen when we try to put our thoughts on paper.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Sabreena Andriesz

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    I would ask them to write down in their own words what their understanding is NOW of the problem statement.

    It could be the same, however due to the passing of time until the question is asked the “now” in effect, prompts them to write down a different (though similar) statement, rather than the exact same one.

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    Suzanne Hull

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    I would ask them to re-write the problem statement but I would not get hung up the first time on whether or not the problem statement changes as it is quite possible that the problem presenter is stuck. I would send it back to the team to get them to ask further questions to see if they can break the problem down. I would allow some time to pass and I would again ask the team to write down the problem. If the problem presenter is again stuck, I would askethe team what they would like to do next and see where it goes. The team could choose to end the session and allow the problem presenter time to reflect and come back another day with the problem.

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    ericperret

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    I like the idea (and practice) of writing down the problem, regardless of whether it’s the same problem, verbatim — truly, you don’t know what might happen in the process. I also understand a new scenario now, thanks to Dee: the problem presenter may not yet feel helped or understood, and wants to restate the problem to recalibrate.

    So: have the problem presenter write it down; if it’s precisely the same problem, so be it. Now, who has the next question?

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