Scenario: Curious Questions

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: The participants are asking extraordinarily curious questions.

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

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Comments (9)

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    M Meulesteen-Kuipers

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    I would ask the team to reflect on what they are doing and to think about the problem that has to be solved. How do your questions relate to the problem? If they ask me why I ask this I would say that I feel their questions are not to the point. Or I would ask to go on on one of their questions to see where it leads. So to try to stay focused on one question en try to ask in-depth questions.

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    Jessica McWade

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    It depends on how one defines “curious questions.” It’s really in the eye of the beholder, right? Some curious questions could actually help the team make progress by helping them consider the problem statement from new and different perspectives. After all, the arrival of the pizza man and his questioning in our action learning curriculum was itself curious, but ultimately very helpful. Of course, the action learning coach should ensure that questions are focused on the core problem and, ideally, that the questions and answers build substantively toward both action and learning. That said, I would not necessarily stifle one or two curious questions that could foster unusual and yet relevant and productive and action and learning. On the other hand, curious questions that are poorly considered and risk sending the team onto unproductive tangents need to be called out with patience, firmness, and grace. In these scenarios, the coach should ask the team whether that current line of questioning is addressing the problem statement and core issues to be resolved. Ideally, it’ll be the team’s decision to move away from unproductive curious questions and back into the heart of the discussion.

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    Rachel Goodwin

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    I would observe how the group were responding to the questions, were they all engaged? Was the discussion veering away from the problem? Were they making discoveries that seemed relevant to the problem presented? I would then intervene to check on process – agreement on the problem, assessment of their performance and exploration of what they were doing well and could do better. This assessment should help them to refocus if that was necessary, if I felt that it was necessary I would share my observation and ask them what the impact of it was and what they wanted to do about it.

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    Danuta Babińska

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    As I am not entirely sure what the expression “curios questions” means in this context so I will answer twofold.
    First – if the questions show excessive curiosity of participants. In this case after the check in and asking the standard questions (How do you feel we are doing as a group thus far on a scale, what are we doing well, what we could do better) I would wait for the responses and see if anyone noticed the “curious questions asking”. If not I would ask something like: I heard a lot of questions showing your curiosity. How is this helping us to work on the problem?
    Second – if the questions asked are extraordinarily curious in the sense that they are very unusual, out of the box questions. During the intervention I would ask the group for the assessment of the quality of the questions and how the questions asked help the group in their work
    It might turn out that the questions tackle a really different perspective or look at the problem in an unexpected way. In many cases such approach might actually be useful for the group. It is important though to make sure they realize that.

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    Ulla Willner

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    I would closely monitor the reaction of the Problem Presenter. If I sensed the questions were making the problem presenter uncomfortable and/or if I sensed the questions being overly curious on tecnical details of the problem rather than the theme, I would politely intervene and ask the problem presenter if he/she felt that the line of questioning was helpful. Depending on the reply, I would then ask the group to assess how we were doing.

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    Jouw Wijnsma

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    I would complement them on their curiosity (and creativity), then continue with asking ‘how is this impacting us as a group?’. If it helps the group with the problem then ask ‘how can we do this even better?’ If it does not help the group ask ‘how do we want to handle this?

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    Taissa Melo

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    I would ask:
    How is the quality of our questions on the scale 1-10?
    What is the impact?
    How can we improve this?

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    HONGXIA ZHANG

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    I will first observe how the team respond to such “curious questions”. If team members don’t feel curious and their answers are relevant to the problem to be solved, they will be good questions for Pizzer Man. I will record them as a learning point and invite those raising the questions to share how they thought of such good questions when time is enough in the later process of reflection on learning. If some members have a puzzled look, such as frowning and speaking louder, or someone directly asks “what do you want to know?”, or the team follow and answer the questions, though their answers sound less relevant to the core problem to be solved, I will intervene decisively after observing patiently and carefully. I will ask the team, “Are our questions and statements aimed at the core problem to be solved now?” Every member will be invited to answer the question with “yes” or “no”, to reveal the overall cognition of the team. Generally, most of them will say “no”, and some may give a brief explanation. If I observe the team realize their digressions and get prepared for a return to the core question, I can withdraw from the intervention by asking, “Who has another question?” If the team are unconscious, I will invite members to further share their ideas, and then ask them, “Can we go back to the core problem now?” After getting a positive answer, I will withdraw from the intervention by telling them, “Time is given back to you now.”

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      HONGXIA ZHANG

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      “Quizzer man” substitute for “Fizzer man”

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