Scenario: Brainstorming

As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation:

The team feels they are at a point that it would be useful to brainstorm.

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning, WIAL Talk

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Comments (29)

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    Sridar Ramachandran

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    I would ask the team if a brainstorming session will assist in coming up with a solution to the problem. If the team agrees, i will then ask what are the two ground rules of AL. Then i will ask if a brainstorming session can comply to the 2 ground rules. If they insist that the situation requires a brainstorming session, I would then ask ” Team, could we end the AL session for now to proceed with the brainstorming and commence AL once the brainstorming session is over”?

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    Elbert Or

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    I would ask the team if this is something everyone agrees is necessary so that they can move forward. If all say yes, I would then ask them how much time they will need, and how else they would like to proceed.

    If at least one says no, I would ask them how they would like to proceed. Perhaps they would like to make a case for why or why not, then put it to another vote.

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    Elbert Or

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    I would ask the team if this is something that can be done within the AL context and ground rules. I would also ask if everyone agrees is necessary so that they can move forward. If all say yes, I would then ask them how much time they will need, and how else they would like to proceed.

    If at least one says no, I would ask them how they would like to proceed. Perhaps they would like to make a case for why or why not, then put it to another vote. But I feel like there needs o be a unanimous decision on this in order for them to break away from AL and brainstorm. Otherwise, I would ask them what is the impact if at least one person does not feel it is necessary to do something as a team?

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    Ma. Lorelei Lava

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    I will check with the team if there has been a consensus / agreement of the problem. Assuming that at this point where they brought up the brainstorming idea they already have an agreement to the problem, I will ask team how can AL and ground rules be used in their brainstorming session. As a Coach, I will also ask the team how the brainstorming process will help the team move forward with finding solutions to the problem. This is to raise to their awareness how it will help and its impact to the team. I will also check with the team if there is an agreement from the team members to do brainstorming. If everyone agrees, I would ask the team how they would like to proceed – how much time they need, if they would like to proceed with AL after the braistorming or set another AL.
    In the next AL session, I will bring back the learning from the brainstorming and its impact to the team and finding a solutions to the problem.

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  • Dr Bea

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    Since Brainstorm fits within the rules of Action Learning – a question is asked and many answers are given. But I’d want to be sure the team was ready for this and would raise it to awareness and make sure everyone was good with it.

    My questions –
    I’ve observed we have a suggestion to move to brain storming. How do other feel about this?
    what will the impact on our problem solving be?
    How will we brain storm and continue to follow our ground rules?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Michael Anderson

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    This is a fascinating situation. It seems to me, that in many ways AL is brainstorming only in question form. As such, lobbying for one’s opinion, monopolizing the time, and rabbit trails are practically eliminated. The more I facilitate AL, the less inclined I am to do traditional brainstorming. In a case where a team wants to brainstorm, I want to ask them what they actually hope to accomplish with brainstorming. Then ask if it is possible to accomplish the same thing by following the AL rules. I also want to ask them what they believe the advantages and disadvantages of brainstorming to be over AL. If they are adamant about brainstorming as a coach I believe the appropriate thing would be to comply. I like the ideas already expressed about putting a time limit, setting a clear goal, and comparing the experience and results to the AL process after the conclusion of the brainstorming session

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    Owen Yeung

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    I would firstly ask whether the team agrees with it (if someone flows the idea of brainstorming) and also ask the team to assess the impact of doing brainstorming instead of action learning for the problem in hand. If all agree, I would ask whether what are some of the key considerations they need to make in order to make sure brainstorming works for problem solving, e.g. how long did we allow for brainstorming, who will be responsible of tracking what the team brainstormed, etc.

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    Ewa Obałka

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    I think brainstorming can lead to good results if all team members agree to that method of working.

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    SHA SHA

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    I will ask team why they want brainstorming and how the brainstorming will help problem-solving.
    Sometimes, when team get stuck in finding the real problem, they hope brainstorming could be a quick way.
    Usually, they will find some new directions but will feel some frustrated since they still don’t find the real problem.
    So if the team haven’t found the real problem, I will add one question:
    I find we haven’t reached consensus on what the real problem is. So how brainstorming will impact on find the real problem?

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    Justin Li

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    i would like to ask, “whether you all will follow AL grand rule during brainstrom?” if they say yes, i think that will be ok; but if they say no, i would like to ask, “why do you think brainstrom is so important to the team?” and “does everyone agree with this suggestion”, if all the team member agree, and the coach evaluate that brainstrom will improve the team’s work, i would like to give them certain time for brainstorm, and then back to the AL meeting again.

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    Eric Yang

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    Check with the team if what’s the impact and the relevence to the topic
    “Team ,what’s the impact to the team?
    How’s your feeling to the brainstorming?
    What’s the suitble approach in this stage?

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    Chun Tyng LOW

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    I will pose a question to the team; “Is brainstoming session can constantly give learning to each member and self reflection on leadership skills?”

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    Chongli Tian

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    我会提问团队头脑风暴是否符合行动学习的原则?如果团队认为可以使用行动学习的原则进行头脑风暴,比如团队某位成员提出一个问题,其他团队成员依次回答,同时提问的团队成员记录所有人的回答并进行归类与合并。然后,他进一步就每类回答向团队提问以征求意见和建议。
    如果团队不是所有人都认为头脑风暴应在符合行动学习基本原则的情况下进行,那么就不可使用或者暂停当前的行动学习研讨一段时间,团队另行进行头脑风暴研讨,并在约定的时间回来继续进行行动学习。

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    Nanda Oomen

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    In this case I assume that the group has reached consensus on the formulation of the problem and has ended up in the phase of generating solutions and associated actions. Brainstorming can be a solution / action that the team can execute after the action learning session. I would like to keep the action learning session pure, follow the script and not build a brainstorming session in an action learning session. I would, however, guard that the group properly discusses the why, how, what, where, when and who in relation to the brainstorming action.

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    Michelle Lin

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    As the coach I would intervene to ask each individual to state whether they agree to brainstorming at that point. I would then reinforce the two ground rules and state that they still apply if all participants wanted to brainstorm. I would need to conduct a time check to ensure that there is adequate time – but I would also ask participants how much time they needed to do this and whether this would be sufficient in the allocated remaining time we have. If there was insufficient time, I would ask if participants would like to brainstorm at the next session.
    My view is that if there is a question being asked and the brainstorm responses aims to answer the question being asked it may be an effective way of problem solving. This however, also depends on where the team is at with their level of functioning as a team. If the team consists of a small number of individuals dominating the discussion I would be very careful to ensure that during the brainstorming session the same pattern does not occur. If there was equal voice it may be useful (and particularly if there was consensus to conduct the brainstorming) for the team to charge ahead with the brainstorming.

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    Delia Peixoto

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    I would ask them what is the first ground rule of action learning. then ask why it is important to follow this rule and what is the impact of following it. Then i would ask them if the brainstorming would fit to this methodology, having affirmative sentences only if answering to questions. Then i would ask them how we could manage the brainstorming making sure that we will follow the ground rules of action learning and how the group would like to manage it. If the group decides to start the brainstorming, i would keep make interventions if the ground rule would not be followed.

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    Allen Tillman

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    As an Action Learning Coach, I would intervene with the following questions:
    – Do we have consensus as a team to start brainstorming following the rules to Action Learning? (Requiring answers from each team member)
    – Do we feel as a team that brainstorming will help develop our questions and solutions? (Requiring answers from each team member)
    – Can brainstorming add to the learning within this Action Learning session?
    (Okay, who has the next question?)

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    Pascale Brady

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    Assuming the team has gotten to the point of agreeing on the problem – if someone has asked to brainstorm, I would make sure that everyone agrees with brainstorming following AL rules
    “what are the 2 ground rules of AL?
    “how could you get the team’s input re. brainstorming”
    Therefore helping the team to lead a brainstorming session in the frame of AL (i.e. the frame of Q&A)

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    Aleksandra Lemanska

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    I would ask what could using the brainstorm give us regarding finding solution to the problem? And I would ask if the whole group is ok with using this tool – if somebody isn’t, I would ask what would you need to be ok with it.

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      Renata Czajkowska

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      I would ask whether the group members whether the suggested brainstorming would help them solve the problem and whether they all agree to using this method. The consensus of all the members would be needed to proceed.

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    Kanokwan Srisunthorn

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    I will intervene and ask the team members. “What does the brainstorming assist on solution finding?”. If they say “yes”. Then, I will remind them to follow the ground rules and take the brainstorming in form of Questions and Answers session.

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    Adam Kwiecień

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    This situation reminds me of one of my favorite team coaching tools: as a coach postpone your intervention. This way you 1. give the group a chance to handle the situation themselves 2. gather new information about the group (how they behave, what skills they have, how brave they are, how they cooperate, deal with emotions etc).

    Brainstorming generally is not consistent or inconsistent with AL. Generating ideas or solutions (this is how I understand brainstorming) can be done in many different ways or using different techniques, also by just asking questions and giving answers (sounds like AL 🙂

    One scenario is this: I don’t ask any question in advance, I keep watching if they adhere to the first ground rule (statements before questions). If everything goes well I end the session in a typical way asking what they did best, what they have learned etc. This is the time when they can reflect on brainstorming.

    Another scenario: I use the second ground rule – if I notice that the group can learn something I intervene in the way “I noticed that … how does it influence your efficiency? … what will you do?” Example: I can see you want to use a technique which has not been used in this group ever before, how this can influence your flexibility in solving complex problems? What can you do to be even more effective and flexible?

    And another scenario: the group is doing really great 🙂 becomes more effective every minute and decides that other method than AL will be better for them (for a minute or forever). I follow the group, it is more important for me to support the group (and individuals and the organization) in becoming better and in solving problems than following any single method or set of rules. In this case as an AL coach I would make sure whether we use AL or not and would switch my roles accordingly.

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    Waranunt Chooprasertchok

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    I,as a coach, will consider the situation and the possibility that the brainstorm is really beneficial to the team. I will ask the team members.What is the purpose or the benefits that the team will recieve from the brainstorm. If they can answer clearly, they can do a brainstorm by following two basic rules. And I will intervene If the team member does not follow the two basic rules or the results of the brainstorm cannot provide the benefits that the team members expect. I will ask the team to create awareness. What are the results of your brainstorm? Now, how are the team members working? Will we continue to use the brainstorm method?

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    Pattranee Jullakasewee

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    I would start by asking the team whether they are on the same page or not. If so, I would ask the participants to write what they see about the problem in short sentences and read aloud when the team is ready. If what the team wrote is consistent to each other, I would then ask if there are any possibilities that there are other problems that the team does not see yet, and if so, what would be the consequences of ignoring them and proceeding anyway.

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    Joanna Lee

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    Another thought in addition to those shared above (seeking consensus, managing time etc), I might ask: What was a key lesson learnt from a previous brain-storming session that you would apply in this brainstorming session?

    The idea is to direct the team to an awareness of how they can be effective during the brain-storming session which all members have agreed to.

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    SAGOONSRI JINAPUNMONGKOL

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    I will intervene by asking question , What’s the action learning ? Did you remember 2 ground rules?

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    Yen Le Thi Hai

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    I think that brainstorming is also a good way of proceeding the team discussion when it is properly conducted. First of all, it’s important to make sure that team members get consensus about the idea of brainstorming : what is called a brainstorming? How is a brainstorming is going? Do you all agree to proceed that way? What are expected outcome?
    Secondly, as a action learning coach, if I notice that the team does not clarify/ agree on the problem to solve, I would take this opportunity (when someone raise the idea of brainstorming) to remind the team on the progress of the discussion: do you agree on the problem to be solved? If you are not define the problem yet, how can the brainstorming impact to your not-defined-yet problem?, etc. What does the team have to decide here and now?
    Finally, in case that the brainstorming starts, I still keep my coaching role by making sure that all team members can contribute into the discussion, follow the process of brainstorming (one question, many answers, between experts ) and they can learn. I will make the debriefing by the end: what was the brainstorming going? Can it help us to get the expected outcome? How did you do as a team during the brainstorming? Why is this not successful? Can we do it better? etc.

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    SUNISA PHUMPAKA

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    I will intervene by said Let’s me remind our 2 ground rules ” Statements only in response to question; anyone can ask anyone questions” and ” Action learning coach has the authority to intervene whenever he/she identifies learning opportunity ” Do we agree with 2 ground rule ?”
    if yes, let continue our action learning process . Who has the next question ?

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    Kathy Zou

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    I will ask the team what they mean by “brainstorming”? What’s the exact process they would follow to brainstorm? How this aligns or not aligns with 2 AL ground rules? How this helps to solve the problem. People may have different versions of brainstorm process so I would bring this to surface and let the team see their version (s) of brainstorming process and how it helps to solve the problem. If the team can reach the consensus of the brainstorming process and I will let them to do for a while. I did encounter such a situation in real life. After discussing the problem for a while, one of the members ask a question about the root causes of the problem and she proposed to use “brainstorming” approach, i.e. every member to give the answer of the root causes of the problem. I asked the team if they all agree the approach and how they think it helps for solving the problem. The team reached the consensus that they would “brainstorm” for the root causes and I let the team to go. Later on, the team reflected that this is not so helpful as they have not yet reached the full consensus of the “problem” they are addressing.

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