Scenario: Consensus

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: The team is having trouble coming to consensus.

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

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Comments (20)

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    Arlene McComie

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    As an Action Learning Coach, if the team is having trouble coming to consensus i will intervene by asking each member to take a minute to write down (in one sentence, not more than two sentences) what they understand the problem to be. I will then request each member to read their response. If a member attempts to explain, I will request the person to hold on the explanation until all members have shared. At the end of the sharing, I will take a poll to determine if there is consensus on the problem. I will then ask them to take two minutes to capture in a statement, their common understanding of the problem. As the coach I will check in with questions to the group, to ensure that consensus continues. Lack of consensus can have a serious impact of the questions asked and the possible solutions that will eventually emerge.

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    Mariusz Dłużak

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    I ask: “Do you think we have agreement as a group what is the real problem in this situation – yes or no?”
    When everyone answers, please ask the group: “Write down, in your own words, what you think is the heart of the problem we can solve today.”
    Next, please ask each participant to read only what they wrote: “Do we agree? Yes. No. We are close.”
    If the group answers “Yes” – we continue.
    If the group answers “We are not / we are close” I ask: “What would help us in reaching a common position regarding the problem?”
    Help questions:
    – “How would you reformulate this suggestion by XY to agree with her?”
    – “To connect / join it?”
    – “Are we already working on a shared vision?”

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    Thomas Ernst

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    I would intervene and have the group write down what they believe the problem is, and have each read aloud. If they are close I would ask what else they would like to do in order to get to consensus on the problem and see what answer comes out. If they are not close I would also ask what would help the group get closer, and see what happens. I would repeat this process again at another check in, and perhaps ask if getting something on a flipchart may help in getting agreement

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    Alberto

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    I would run the problem check once more, and when there is no consensus, I would ask “what are the implications of having no consensus on the problem? How can we get to consensus? What have we not tried to get to consensus on the problem? How can we help each other to achieve a common perception on the problem? What tool you know(especially in higly trained groups) have we not yet used to get to consensus? “

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    Angela May

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    As the Action Learning Coach, I would ask the group if they think they have come to a consensus of the problem. If they do not agree, then have them write down in a sentence or two what they feel the problem is. Then have each group member read aloud what they feel the problem is. At the end of the sharing see if the group has come to a common theme or area of the problem. If there is a common theme , see if the team would like to continue with questions or see if there is consensus again with the problem statements.

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    Katherine Steele

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    The issue of consensus is commonly addressed through check ins and in a systematic way. By following the check in procedures we can address what we are doing well, what we can do better and if we have agreement on the problem or not. By having members write down in their own words what they believe the real problem is that they can help the problem presenter with you can determine if there is agreement through the yes,no, or close model. If yes or close tehn you can move towards actions, if no then you ask the team what would help them get to consensus and who has the next question. Trusting the process is important.

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    Melissa Cummings

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    I would remind the team that we have x time to help (A) come up with actions to take in response to her problem. I would ask if the group has reached consensus, and regardless of their response, I would have them each write down what they believe the real problem is. Each member would then read what they wrote down out loud. After reviewing all responses, I would ask again if the group has reached consensus. If the answer is still “no,” I would ask the group to really try and focus on what the problem presenter has control over right now and what he or she has influence over. I would provide feedback if some of the responses sound more like solutions than problems, and have them rephrase when necessary. If the group still hasn’t reached consensus, I would ask “How would the group like to proceed in reaching consensus?” If they suggest more questions, I would again remind them of the time constraints, but allow them to proceed. If they suggest something else, like working the problem out together on a white board or similar, I would allow them to proceed.

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    Alberto Zevi

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    I’d do the standard check-in and have the group write down what they believe the problem is to see if there is the consensus.
    If there is no consensus I’d ask: what would help us in reaching the consensus?

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    Jinghui Gao

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    I will ask the team, “do you think we have reached a consensus on the understanding of the problem? If we score on the understanding and agreement of the problem, 1 to 10 points, 10 points means to reach a consensus completely, 1 point on the contrary, how many points will we get? What will be the impact if it continues like this? What should we do? What’s your decision? “

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    alicia wellington

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    As the action learning coach I will seek to guide the team in determining where the area(s) of disagreement lies by taking the following actions:
    1. I will ask each participant to write down in their own words what they believe to be the problem.
    2. Then I will ask each participant to read aloud exactly what they wrote.
    3. I will then pose the question to the team “do we have agreement on the problem – yes, no or close?”
    4. This will then be followed by another question “ what will help us get to consensus?” and seek the team’s agreement to implement their suggestions, for example, one response may be “if we ask more probing questions to obtain more information on the problem.”

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    Jessica McWade

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    Where are we in the action learning session? Is it too soon to be concerned about reaching problem consensus? Consensus can occur at varied times in the proceedings depending on the nature of the group and the problem, so I won’t want to rush things unnecessarily.

    If problem consensus is truly not occurring, given that the group has had sufficient time to do so, I’d do a check-in as follows:

    1. Does the group believe we have reached problem consensus? If yes, what is it? If no, I’d ask what’s preventing the group from reaching consensus.
    2. It is likely that I’d ask each participant to write down their definition of the problem.
    3. I’d ask each person to read their version of the problem to the group.
    4. I’d ask them whether any of these problem statements – or a combination of them – get us closer to consensus.
    5. If not, I’d ask them how they would like to go about reaching consensus and what they can do better to get there.

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    Yulia Saksen

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    I will get them to write down what do they think is the problem and give them a minute to write. Once everybody is done, I will get each and everyone of them to read it out loud word by word as per written. If any participant did not read as it is, I will bring the learning to the class by asking what will happen if we let this go on (as in sharing without reading as per written) and what impact will it bring to the other person and to the class. I will also be mindful not to allow the problem presenter to share as the first nor the last.
    I will continue by asking do we have an agreement to the problem? and ask them Yes, No or Quite Close. And ask them how to bring to the next level?

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    Jeremy Gwee

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    When the group is unable to come to a consensus after 2 or 3 rounds of exploring the problem, I would intervene and ask the team members to write down what they think the problem is. Then each one including the problem presenter will read aloud their understanding of the problem. At the end of the round, I will ask whether they agree or not that there is a consensus. If not then what they think are the differences. This will initiate a round of questioning to clarify their differences. At the end of this round, they will write their understanding of the problem and once again read them out loud. If on a scale of 1-10, they believe that they are less than 5, then I will ask them what do they think is hindering them from coming to a consensus and once again initiate another round to resolve their differences. At the end of this round, I will ask them to take a break. When they return I will ask them once again to write down their individual understanding of the problem. They will read out their perspective. At the end of the round then I will ask them what have they learned about the way that they have progressed. Then on a scale of 1-10, I will ask if they believe they have achieved a consensus. If the group is about 7-8, I will consider this as having achieved consensus and move to the next stage.

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    abdi dharma saragih

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    I would intervene by asking the team to write down what they think the problem is, then have each of the team to read what they have wrote down
    if there are still no consensus about the problem, I will give them 10 minutes more to ask questions after that I will ask again for consesus.
    If after this round there are still no consensus, then I will intervence by asking
    “What will be the impact if it continues like this?”

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    Anneke Broekroelofs

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    I would do a check in and ask: ‘How do you feel we are doing as a group on a scale to 1 – 10? What are we doing well? Anything else? What could we do better? Anything else?’
    Depending on the session so far I would ask a learning question, for example: ‘How are we doing exploring the problem from all angles? Why is this important? And how will we make it happen?’
    If relevant I would continue asking: ‘Do we have agreement on the problem – yes or no? Please write down in your own words what the real problem is we can help the PP with today? Is there agreement – yes, no or close?’
    If there is no consensus I would ask what would help to get to consensus.

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    Alex Hoang

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    I would use the following questions:
    • Do we have an agreement with the problem? (Yes or No)
    • Let’s write it down. And ask each member to read what he/she has written.
    • Is there an agreement? (Yes or No)
    If the common answers are no, I would ask:
    • “What would help us to see the same elephant?”
    This question will help the team to find a way to have the same view.

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    Alessandra Denis

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    When I noticed that the group is struggling to reach a consensus, I would ask: It seems that it is difficult to reach a consensus, who could go to the board and write down the problem?

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      Alicja Pawlaczuk

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      If the problem occurred to be complex and there are several perceptions/ideas on what the real problem is, I would use the method ‘please state the problem in one word’, and then ask the Problem Presenter ‘out of these ‘sub-problems’ which one would you like the team to help you with in the time we have left today’?

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    Marina Moreno

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    I would make the following intervention:
    “Group, what is the impact of not getting to a consensus of the problem?”
    Than: “What would help us to come to consensus?”
    Than: “Who has the next question that could lead us to the consensus?

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    HONGXIA ZHANG

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    As an Action Learning coach, in this case, I will first express my trust in the team and the process, and then reaffirm my role and duties. Meanwhile, I will observe needs of the team and inspire the team to find solutions with questions. I will say, “Thank you for your trust. I believe you are fully capable of settling the problem under the guidance of the Action Learning process. As a coach, I am responsible for process management and intervention to promote learning when finding learning points, and will not join the discussion about the problem. In this way, I can remain neutral and concentrated on observation of your learning, to better serve the team. At the same time, if you really need some information and advice from someone out of the team, how can you do it?”

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