Scenario:Intervention Timing

As an Action Learning Team Coach how would you handle the following situation: The group has been processing particularly well, but it has been more than 30 minutes since the last intervention.

Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Comments (16)

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    Gail Finger

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    Since the role of the coach is to facilitate learning and one the key questions we ask during an intervention is what we are doing well as a team, I think it’s important to find a time to ask that question. Whether it’s at the 30 minute mark or 35 minutes or 40 minutes would not be as important to me as ensuring that the team reflects on how and why things went so well.

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    Brian

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    I agree with Gail, although it would depend on the sequence of the team’s work. If this were the third day of a three-day session, fewer interventions are needed if the team and coach are doing their job. It’s less about time and more about judgment about team learning and output.

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    Eric

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    Yes – I’m with Gail and Brian on this – and I think my judgment will improve with experience – reinforcing what makes the session productive while judging when to do it would seem to be helpful.

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    Philipp Werenfels

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    Since the focus of an AL coach is to develop a good communication process among the participants, it seems counterproductive to interrupt while it still works. Thus, in contrast to Gail and Brian, I would not interrupt the well-functioning process and wait until the debriefing phase. During this phase we discuss the learning.

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    Fred N.

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    I think it depends on how long the group has been operating. For an established group, I’d let them run a little longer assuming they’re on task, but for a newer group, at the 30 minute mark I’d find a point to intervene and focus on the learning.

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    Annemarie Butcher

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    I agree with Philipp – the role of the coach is to intervene whenever they identify a learning opportunity. If there is no learning opportunity then don’t intervene. However, it also depends on the experience of the coach. If the coach is inexperienced there may be learning opportunities that are not being identified. If this were the case then an observer would be of benefit to the coach to provide feedback.

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    terry mazzer

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    As stated by Annemarie and Phillip, the coach’s role is to intervene when there is a learning opportunity. No opportunity = no intervention. Good point made by Annemarie about an inexperienced coach – however, an observer may/ may not be a benefit.

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    Jason Roberts

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    As a new coach I would be worried that I wasn’t doing my job if I hadn’t intervened in 30 minutes. One of the things that came up over and over in my classes is that the coach has to remember the point of the AL session. Yes, we are there to facilitate learning, but the other goal (that seems to be often forgotten) is problem solving. If the group is following the rules and progressing toward solving the problem, leave them alone. There will be opportunities to intervene…don’t worry about the clock. If you’re taking good notes, you can wait until the debrief. Don’t let the AL process get in the way of the problem solving.

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    Marcy Vannoy

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    I agree with the above comments. If the group is working well and everyone is participating then there is no need to intervene.

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    Deborah Keene.

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    For most situations, I’d leave them alone if the engagement is on track. I would have to consider what phase of the process they are in and how far they have yet to go. If they are on track and all is going well, I’d leave them alone. Sometimes a team is going well and it might be a good time to intervene to allow them to explore what is working well. I’d be careful to bridge the interruption as best I could if I felt it was in the best interest of the teams development to use this positive experience as a learning opportunity.

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    Lizv

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    It depends… For me if this is just a one-day session then I think intervening might be useful, it could give them time to reflect. However, if the ALT was an established group with multiple sessions, I would give them more time, as long as the energy and productivity was high.

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    Rob K

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    I believe the job of an Action Learning Coach is to leave “no finger prints” on the outcome. Sometimes intervening in a constructive dialogue is just as damaging as imposing your own views or solutions on the group. Assuming the group seems to be getting something out of the exchange, I would consider letting them go until a natural breaking point, or a change in the direction of the conversation. However, if I did decide to go ahead with the intervention, I would use something like the following transition: “I can see that you all are really engaged and that is wonderful, but I do want to check in with you to see how we are doing. If you’ve got something else you want to say on this point, please take 30 seconds to jot it down, and I promise we can come back to it after the intervention.”

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    Cleo Wolff

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    I have read all the comments and keep myself with a question: what doeslearning opportunity mean for AL session? I think that a positive flow, with everything going well it is also a learning opportunity to reflect the good rhythm the team developed. I would intervene and ask them the basic questions.
    Cleo

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    Catherine Breathnach

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    As indicated in all the comments so far, the issue seems to be what is the purpose of the intervention, which is dependent on the maturity of the AL set, the manner in which the group is operating and problem solving, and the need to provide ‘space’ for the group to reflect and learn from what is occurring. It is important that the coach provides the opportunity for the latter – but not to intervene for the sake of intervening because a particular length of time has or hasn’t passed.

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    DrBea

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    GREAT GREAT responses on this one. The timing of the interventions is driven but the opportunity (not by the clock). Opportunities are both for reinforcing the good as well as shifting to the better. If the team is functioning well – no need to do anything.

    In general, I would discourage having an observer present. If someone is going to be there they should be part of the team. The one situation I have come to accept that observers can be useful is for giving feedback to the coach. As a new coach it’s hard to catch everything (actually even as an experienced coach). As an observer when you are first coaching that is only focusing on how you are coaching is a wonderful source of feedback. It is also a great way to hone our own skills as it’s easier to know what to do when you aren’t in the thick of it.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    John Thompson

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    As I am coming in late on this one my sense is that if the process is moving well the need to place a ‘finger print’ on the process by the coach is less importnat than respecting the flow. Rather let the process run to a point where it feels right to help the team to draw the conversation together. This is a ‘gut feel’ decision but b;locking the flow would be interpreted as interference by the team and this would be detrimental to the team dynamic moving forward. At this point the team could take the opportunity to evaluate their progress and the coach could reinforce the value of energy and focus in the preceding discussion.

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