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 (19)

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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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    Anne Bertoli

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    I trust the group and their decision, the AL approach and the script. I believe that the problem will move along during the session. I would not intervene in the group´s decision, thinking about the second rule: The AL coach will only intervene when there is a learning opportunity, and will not be directly involved in solving the problem.

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    Artur Techmanski

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    Whether I agree or not is not relevant however I would share with the group my feeling: “I feel that there are many aspects to the presented problem. How do you see it as a group?”. If the group continues to say that they agee on the problem I would finish the intervention and invite to ask next question. I would also monitor and question any non-verbal indicators that may show that some of the team members are not in agreement with what is the actual problem.

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    Loc Do

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    As an AL Coach, we are expected to stay neutral within the session. Moreover, we have to possess mindset called “trust the team”, which is described that the team is the one who will do the best for their problem, not the Coach.

    So in this case, I recommend we will have some questions to dig deeper and support team to reach agreement on the problem statement as follows:

    A. Option A: Broad/Indirect Approach
    1. Hello team, I heard you said that we are close to the agreement, what will help us to reach closer to the team agreement?
    2. What will we do which those things? (Take note)
    3. How will we do it? (Take note)
    4. Do we have agreement on these actions? Yes or No? (Check individually)
    => Follow the process

    B. Option B: Direct Approach
    1. Hello team, I heard you said that we are close to the agreement, which keywords help us to reach closer and which do not?
    2. What will we do which those keywords?
    3. What is the team final problem statement now?
    4. Do we have agreement on this problem statement? Yes or No? (Check individually)
    => Follow the process

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    HUE NGUYEN THI NGOC

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    As an Action Learning Coach, I have to trust the team but also trust my senses. If After the team members each read out their version of the problem, I realizes there are many aspects to it and disagree even though they have agreement on the problem they all say close. I will clarify this point by asking the team rating their agreement on the problem on the scale of 10. If the average rating of all members is below 10, I will ask the team what is lacking so that to make the rating to 10. Then follow the process because the team members are those who best understand their problem.

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    Janaina Gameiro Arbucias

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    As a coach, if the team really believes they are close, I would confirm consensus and move to the next step.

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    Thao Vo

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    Coach will ask the members to self-grade for agreement about problem statement on a scale of 1-10. of which 10 points are the highest consensus. If the members’ scores are not quite the same, Coach will ask the group what things they have done well in the past time? What can the team do better? Coach reminds the group of the need to agree on the PP problem

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    Naraiana Lessa

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    I understand the group’s perception should prevail over my own, in an isolated way. Once the group stated that they are close to an agreement, the best I could do would be asking the group whether getting close to it meant minimum consensus (enough to move forward). Either whether there would be consensus or not, I would move with the script accordingly.

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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.

    Reply

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    Inthira Munion

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    In the AL Coaching framework, team decision takes precedence. The coach does not decide or facilitate the team with a personal view. I shall let the team decide the next course of action, and I shall intervene when the learning opportunity exists to maximize the team learning and relate that with their daily personal/professional life. Much earlier intervention would disrupt the flow of the session and eventually curb the learning potential. When the team realizes that something is missing and lack of clarity exposes the problem, that would allow for learning to take place on the team level.

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    Noppawan Phosopsawat

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    I would mention to team:
    – To score on how close they think the problem is stated.

    Or making intervention below:

    – Do you notice that there are differences in your problem statements?
    – If there are still various aspects in each of your problem statement and you say that you have agreement, what would this lead to?
    – What would you do as team to get to the real problem in this situation?

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    Makie Wing Yi Ho

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    I will trust the team to make their own judgement. I will ask the team to rate 1-10 on how close they think they have the consensus of the problem. And ask what they want to do next and continue.
    Later on, I will ask the team if they have consensus of the problem and ask them to read out their version of statement again. It the team does not agree on the final problem statement, I will ask them to reflect on the issue and what to do next. If they had their problem statement and felt all agreed, I will let them continue. If they did not have a clear problem statement and continue the discussion, I will have my intervention opportunity when issues related to it arises.

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    Julia zhang

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    First, it is not considered that “the coach is the correct solution to the issue”. Second, team members do not need to be recognized by the coach on the issue view and solution ideas.
    Therefore, I” realizes there are many aspects to it” and “disagree”, do not represent the views of the team members is flawed. I won’t intervene and see how the team moves forward. If there is nothing wrong with the progress of the team agenda, I can learn from the team members’ perspectives on the definition of the agenda. If progress is unclear, I ask “why is this a problem?” to let the team know what the problem is.

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