Scenario: Problematic Problem Presenter

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: The problem presenter schedules a half hour meeting immediately before the Action Learning session. During this meeting the problem presenter presents their solution to the problem about to be discussed in the Action Learning session.

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

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Comments (7)

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    Marcin Kamieński

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    It is a typical situation and I meet with them very often.
    As the Action Learning Coach I try to convince the Presenter that it’s a wrong way because when we work alone, we always have only one, ourself perspective and view on the problem. I describe the Presenter how we will work (AL) and what the results we can achieve.
    The most important thing is “power of team” – when we work with team, we can expect a lot of solutions – sometime very suprising.
    In the group we have a lot of people with themself experiences so we can generate a curiously ideas.
    On the second hand – we have to remember about team motivation – the Presenter is more motivation when feels the support of the team.
    Summary – if the Presenter has a solution, he will be lose “ocassion to learn” about a problem.

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    Jeremy Gwee

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    As a coach, I will listen to the problem presenter’s problem before the session to determine if the problem is urgent and significant. I will remind the problem presenter that in action learning it is the responsibility of the team to resolve the problem. As such while he thinks he/she may have the solution, my role as a coach is not to validate the solution. I will ask him/her to keep an open mind and allow the team to work with him/her to reach an actionable solution, a solution that the team and the problem presenter can own together and together ensure that the solution is executed. The team will then help the ‘presenter’ work on that problem through supportive but challenging questioning: encouraging a deeper understanding of the issues involved, a reflective reassessment of the ‘problem’, and an exploration of ways forward. I will also inform him/her that action learning also requires that the group be able to take action on the problem it is working on. If the group makes recommendations only, it loses its energy, creativity, and commitment. As such I will aks him to first present his/her problem to the group and work with the group on the solution. And if collectively the solution turns out to be the same as his/her then he/she has also the support of the team. But if the group solution is different from his/her then he should still follow the group because it is through questioning him/her that the group solution was derived and the group has ownership to make sure that the solution works.

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    Yulia Saksen

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    I will be more than glad for the problem presenter to share with me before the Action Learning session begin. This way, I will know whether or not the problem presenter has meet the criteria like: the authenticity of the problem and requires urgent attention, complexity, has it been solved yet? does the problem presenter has the authority to solve it?
    The moment I know they already have some solutions in mind but still want to go ahead with the Action Learning session, I will explain to them it is not how it works for Action Learning. And if they decided to continue, I will encourage them to be open minded and to keep the solution to themselves and embrace the learning that will happen during the session. I will also ensure them that they will get the chance to see interesting perspective contributed by the team during the session and might even give them a more effective solution to the problem.

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    katia soares natalicchio

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    I would try to approach the presenter and explain clearly the meaning of the LA methodology and the importance of following the method so that the actions are built by the small group. It would portray the impact of going with ready-made solutions. I would also say that it will be an incredible opportunity to exercise leadership skills and explore the best of each one.

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    Anna Sieczkowska - Bałazy

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    I would say that if you want to solve this problem using Action Learning we need to meet in small groups according to the rules. We need to respect the basic rules and use the power of group.
    If he doesn’t understand this idea we should resign from finding solution by AL method .

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    FangFang Kong

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    As an action learning coach, I will share some of the definitions and rules of action learning with PP before the meeting starts: the definition and rules of action learning require PP to confirm that the problem is: the real problem (in accordance with the SMART principle), a team takes action to learn about this problem, develops strategies and takes action.
    I will ask the team in the question consistency section of the AL meeting process: how clear is the current PP problem?(1-10 points)
    3.If the members’ ratings are not consistent or near consistent, ask the members how the consistency of the question should be carried out.
    4.When a member’s rating is inconsistent or close to being consistent, ask the member: who has the next question?
    5.In an AL meeting, what would be the outcome of the meeting if the PP problem was itself a problem?
    6.What is the impact of learning during such meetings?
    7.Based on this situation, what should we do to prepare for the question of PP itself in our future AL meeting?

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    Joop van Nierop

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    It’s the challange of the Action Learning coach is to adhere to the principles of Action Learning as a methodology for tackling urgent and complex issues.
    To this end, the coach must allow the team and the PP to experience the interaction and dynamics of the group process. The result is a problem that is shared by the team and offers handles for a promising approach to the submitted issue.
    My experience shows that some of my students want to deviate from the method, because
    1. she/he is unsure to articulate the problem well and does not want to leave a bad impression in the team;
    2. she/he is convinced that she/he needs more time than 3 to 5 minutes to share the problem with the team;
    3. she/he only seeks confirmation of a pre-selected problem formulation;
    I choose to intervene and convince PP that a short introduction to the problem is sufficient and tell her/him that an introduction of half an hour will be counterproductive.

    When the PP cannot be convinced, I abandon the session and inform the team that experience shows that the result will be unsatisfactory.
    But if the PP agrees, I will provide her/him with the following handles for a short introduction: what are the aspects/concerns?, What are we trying to do, what are the obstacles, why is this problem important, urgent or both.

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