Scenario: Consensus

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

The team is having trouble coming to consensus.

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

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    Emmanuel Ossom


    As a coach, i would ask the team: “What would help us get to consensus”? This would be followed by asking them who has the nest question? This will lead to the team members asking themselves series of further questions or asking questions they might have asked already in refined ways. This would mean the coach repeating the coaching session with the team until such a time that consensus is reached. The team couldn’t reach a consensus because they probably asked the wrong questions , or some of them actually got the real problem at hand while others didn’t. The first question as to how the team can reach consensus is very important. The team in response to this questions would even ask themselves more right questions that would lead to more insight into the real problem and better understanding of it through refinement of what they already saw the real problem to be in order to create harmony but also synergy among their initial varying views of what the real problem is. Without reaching consensus the real problem wouldn’t be identified let alone to be solved. Reaching consensus requires patience and although it could be time-consuming, it is the surest way to generate the best ingredients that must define the real problem from any problem statement presented. Moreover, reaching consensus requires that team members give equal respect to the views of everyone, everyone must be allowed to speak his/her mind, and no team member should be domineering so that the real problem shouldn’t be seen as an imposition be one or few people even if it is actually the real problem. Once there is consensus, the team would be motivated to take action on the solution and there could be assurance that the right action will be taken for the right solution. Consensus on the real problem mean an individual sense of ownership of the real problem and this will invariably stir up great commitment towards taking action on it.


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    Pascale Brady


    I assume this means having trouble coming to consensus on the problem – either way, I believe that the best way to handle this is to keep stopping the conversation and asking:
    “How do we feel we are doing on agreeing on the problem on a scale of 0-10?”
    Then go around the table and ask each person to give a number.
    Then ask them to write down the problem. Then ask each person to read the problem. Then going around the room again and ask
    “do we agree on the problem? Yes or no?”

    Depending on which round of this we are on of doing this, we can follow this up with
    “what are we doing well as a group?”
    “what could we do better?”

    Then “who has the next question?”

    If there have been many rounds of this same iteration and the team still is not getting to consensus, one could start asking more specific questions about that:
    “what could the team do to reach consensus on the problem?


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