Scenario: One bite at a time

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: After the team members each read out their version of the problem, you realizes there are many aspects to it. When you ask them if they have agreement on the problem they all say close. You disagree.

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

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Comments (7)

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    Guan Heng Tan

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    It is irrelevant at this point whether or not I agree with the team’s collective understanding of the problem. The team decides whether or not to move ahead. This wouldn’t be a time for me to intervene or interject. I may disagree because of certain biases or dispositions I may have. There is greater learning from them proceeding than from me intervening. The learning will surface when they realize the lack of clarity may hinder them from reaching any consensus on a course of action. There’s so much more they can learn about the team dynamics and the potential pitfall of group-think. They may even start to realise that the usual way they do things back at work isn’t optimal. Perhaps, they normally gloss over issues in favour of a quick fix, rather than to flesh an issue out. However, at a later point when the lack of clarity on the problem manifests itself in ways that may allow for learning – e.g. If someone says something like, “why does this keep happening?”, which could be an opportunity to ask how the team feel about what was just said.

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    Rifki Feriandi

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    Being an AL coach, I try not to facilitate nor to drive the team on progressing the discussion based on my perspective. In this case, I am not in the position to give a disagreement of what agreed by the team. However, I may interfere if I see an uncomfortable gesture from one or other team members although they say close to an agreement. I probably ask them to write down what the agreed problem based on each individual opinion, and read it. If I see that there is (are) nuance of disagreement, I might continue to ask how they feel on this nuance of disagreement and how do they think it will affect the further discussion. I will give the team a break for 20 second to reflect of what they agreed individually so that the will come to a problem agreed by all without any nuance of disagreement. If there are still some nuance, I will ask back to the team what they will do. If the will continue as per agreement by ALL, I will continue to ask what might happen and what consequences if ALL agreed. And finally, I will ask team what lessons learnt from this for their individual life as well as their work life.

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    Brigit Naude

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    “I have observed that this problem has more than one aspect to it. Do you think it would have more impact if you worked on one part of the problem? Would the group or problem presenter like to change the problem?” Then do a check-in with the group again to see whether they have agreement/consensus on the problem.

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      Brigit Naude

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      Actually, on second thoughts, that would be facilitation… I need to simply continue with, “Okay, who has the next question?”

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    Annop Niyomdecha

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    I think the agreement from me is not as important as that of the team. If the team agrees on the issue that everyone is talking about together I will invite the team to continue the process.

    But if the team does not agree After doing the process again I will invite the team to write down the issue so that we can see the real problem again.

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    Charmaine McFarlane

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    Being “close” means the group has to continue working. The exercise for the group to write down and share the problem occurs more than once, with time for productive questioning built in. During the check-ins, I would use “what can we better”, and “how are we doing with…” to try to help them think and talk through how they are doing. Hopefully their questions will lead them to consensus by the final check-in. Failing to agree on the problem may make the conclusion/action phase harder, but that would make it clear how important identifying the real problem is. I’ve learned there are times when struggle can bring results. Bottom line, as the Coach my role is to guide them through the process and to be neutral.

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    Elmo Alforque

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    In this situation, I am not a facilitator but an AL coach, I will give the team the opportunity to continue working on the problem and remind them of the leadership competencies that they need to practice during the session. The important item is that there is clarity within the team and agreement on the problem. I would probably give them 5 to 8 minutes to continue the discussion and ask again if they reached an agreement on the problem since they last said that they were close. I will also ask them to write it down and ask each member to read what he/she has written. During the reflections on learning, I will call-out what had happened and ask the team what they have learned from it.

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