Scenario: Rambling (Wo)Man

As an Action Learning Team Coach how would you handle the following situation: A participant asks the problem presenter a question that starts “Do you ….” The response is “no blah blah blah blah blah blah blah ….”

Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Comments (12)

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    Catherine Breathnach

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    Sorry, I don’t understand the scenario.

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    Philipp Werenfels

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    The problem presenter seems to enjoy the spotlight and likes to talk. I would ask him/her “Can you please summarize and conclude the problem statement with one or two sentences?”

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      Philipp Werenfels

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      Actually, my first response did not address the problem. Here the “correct” solution.

      The scenario above is about a closed ended question that triggered an open-ended response. This closed ended question should produce a simple response: YES or NO. Yet, the problem presenter continues to talk more than he/she needs. Consequently, my question would be either a) “Can you please answer the question that was asked?” or b) “What question do you answer?”

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    Erik Mazziotta

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    Agree with Philipp in pointing out the close end nature of the question. If the problem presenter had been been verbose, I would suggest that he/she let the participants do more work by having them figure out what follow up questions they want to the close end question rather than volunteering data.

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    Gail Finger

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    I agree with responses so far. One thing that I often forget to do when meeting with a team for the first time is to include, in the introduction to Action Learning, that when a question is asked, it’s important that the responder answer only the question that was asked. We can “train” participants in that skill when we ask our process questions. For example, when we ask them to rate how we’re doing as a team on a scale from 1-10, and they begin a narrative about why they are choosing that number, I typically stop the person and say “For now I’m going to ask everyone to just answer the question that was asked. The question was…..”
    If it was evident from the beginning that the respondent was not answering the question that was asked, it would be a good opportunity for an intervention like “what is the question that was asked?” I would ask this question of the entire group, not just the person who was giving a long answer.

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    Desray Clark

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    I would ask the problem presenter ” what is the question that is being answered?”

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    Deborah Keene.

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    Ask the presenter what question s/he is responding to. If the question was asked in the spirit of getting a “temperature” response then intervene and ask them to respond to the question. I agree with Gail that we as coaches need to help the problem owner achieve a level of discipline in responding clearly and concisely to questions. So depending on the context of the situation, the coach could ask for a bottome line (2-3 sentence summary) of the his/her response.

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    Anita Bhasin

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    I like the simplicity of what question is on the table right Desray points out, and if I sense that this is triggering low energy or participation for others in the group or is a pattern that seems to be developing, I might even say “Let’s look again at how we’re doing. How do you feel we are we doing as a group? OK? Not OK? (or — on a scale of 1-10?)”

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    sharon Woodings

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    I agree with the comments thus far. however I connect very much withgails comment regarding setting the group up with as much information as possible especially on the first time. I find people love the process when they have completed it however good information pre starting the process cuts down on the first time stress and allows them to focus on the challenge of the prcess and helping the problem presenter. As the group is all important here I would ensure the question is answered in a way that they can gather information. I would ask the problem presenter ” and your answer to the question is?”…or depending on whether or not the whole question has been asked (.it seems that it may not have been ) I would ask the questioner ” your question for the problem presetner is?”

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    Ruth Camp

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    Agree with the comments above — highlighting the difference between the close-ended question and the open-ended response and managing the discipline of responding to the question at hand. I recognize that this is important to do in the first meeting and to reinforce it as the opportunity presents itself. Don’t always remember to do this!!

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    DrBea

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    As others have said – I would simply ask – What question are you answering? If the questioner were to make a comment along the lines that this is good. I’d ask them if they wanted to ref=hrase it as an open question.

    A word of caution here. It’s very natural for folks to ask close questions and give open answers. Trying to intervene on everyone of these can disrupt the team too much. If the response is succinct I let it slide, if it goes on and on – I’ll do the quick intervention of “What question are you answering?”

    If it’s a general problem, during a full intervention I’ll ask – How are we doing just answering the questions we are asked?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    DrBea

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    From John Thompson

    The AL Coach would need to be sensitive to the responses he/she makes. At the check in it would be important that he/she is sensitive to feedback from members of the group. If he/she does not pick up the feeling of the group members that the rambling is disturbing the process it may come up as behaviours are reviewed at the end of the session and this is where the AL Coach would learn the need to let the participants be the focus at subsequent sessions. John Thompson.

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