Scenario: Two owners

As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation:

 You have two problem owners for your project. You assume that the problem owners have coordinated the presentation of the problem for the kickoff session. As soon as one starts to present the problem the other interrupts with a very different view of the problem.

9 thoughts on “Scenario: Two owners

  1. Carole Lyles Shaw

    Interesting issue! This can happen even when the 2 owners think they have a shared or common view of the issue.
    My option for action would be to let the 2nd owner finish his/her statement, then, ask the 1st owner to finish his/her opening presentation. Then, I would simply ask, “Who has the first question?” I would let the group explore what differences they are hearing.

    If someone says, “There are 2 very different problems.” More than likely, the person will then say something like, “What should we do?” If the question is directed at me, I would turn it back to the group or ask, “How would the group like to handle this difference in perspective on the problem?”

    If the group explores only one view of the problem, then I would stop them after a few minutes, and ask the group to define the problem, using our standard approach. If this still doesn’t surface the differences, I would ask the group, “What perspectives or alternative views are not being explored?”

  2. Fred N.

    This situation does seem rather tricky given there is typically only one problem owner or presenter. That said it might be workable having them both there as problem owners simultaneously. I would tell the group that while there is usually one problem presenter, the fact that there are two present and that they have very differing views of the problem indicates that clarity needs to be obtained around the true nature of the problem.

    The existing rules around how the action learning group operates still apply in terms of being able to ask questions of anyone including both problem presenters. I would not change my approach to managing the group. With time it may become clear that a single problem exists or that several problems are at work. In either case the group needs to come to an agreement on the problem(s) before it can move forward to identifying solutions.

    The fact that they were not on the same page in presenting the problem is a bit disconcerting from the standpoint of what happens after the group convenes. I would follow up with them after the initial session to assess whether or not there are clear lines of ownership and how they would work together to implement solutions. I would not want their lack of collaboration to stall the group’s motivation and leave the team with a bad taste in their mouths afterwards.

  3. Cleo

    I would say: I have observed we have two different views of the problem to present to the team. How could we take the best use for the team in this scenario? I would let the team to decide together with the problem presenters how to deal with the situtation. And whatever would be the decision, I only should be paying attention to the best for their learning process.

  4. Meera Aggarwal

    I will intervene and ask the interrupter to stop and allow the first person to finish speaking. This is based on the assumption that during coordination of presentation of the problem they would have also decided – who presents the problem, how and in exactly what words. Two scenarios are possible, First person (PP here) is presenting what was decided among them or presenting something totally different which is why she is being interrupted. I will allow the session to go on and during individual responses to agreement on the problem, let the group decide if there is agreement. Writing down the problem by everyone will allow the different view to be voiced.

  5. Pamela Houghton

    I would enthusiastically share that we know through Action Learning that the original problem as presented is rarely the root problem and the beauty of the process, by design, is discovering many points of view to consider. After giving the first problem presenter an opportunity to finish his/her comments, I’d offer that we have two beginning views of a problem as it’s known right now. I would then begin the first working session.

  6. camkenzie

    This presents an opportunity for learning in terms of there can be individual, joint or group problem ownership. There will be many different views about the problem before and if it is agreed (if ever). So the decision as coach is to intervene and explain the “Problem Presenter” or let it play out and/or more importantly deal with the behavior. As the Coach I would let the process sort out the issue with the problem because it is early days and the group needs time to ask questions to expore and ponder the problem for themselves as part of the process. I would let the second person finish their description of the problem and then ask the first person if they would like to finish their description. I would then ask the group why is it important to hear what each person has to say followed by asking how can we ensure that each person can contribute equally to the session. Finally I would ask how can we as a group ensure each person has equal hearing and the opportunity to contribute. Who has the next question?

  7. Paula Salomao

    Given we are aligned the problem has two owners, I would let the interrupter finish, controlling the time they have to present, and would ask the owner who first presented if he/she would like to finish his/her presentation in one minute. Then, I would ask for the first question.
    I believe this can be very common when we have more than a person discussing a problem where they are involved, as a department problem, for example. More than one person involved will lead to different views.
    The regular process of Action Learning will help define the very real nature of the problem, will help align them in a single view and let them move forward to solve the problem.

  8. DrBea Post author

    Great responses. Hopefully, I had met with the problem presenters before hand and coordinated how they would present. Potentially, 1 – 2 minutes each. Knowing the differing in the views it would be easy enough to have each present their point of view – thus avoiding the interrupting.

    Assuming we had agreed ahead of time that one of them would present. I would step in immediately, and ask the interrupted to hold their thought until the problem presenter was finished at which time they could ask any questions they had.

    The key to this situation would be preparing with the problem presenter(s) ahead of time.

    Happy Coaching

  9. Chenglong

    As a coach, I would say: I have observed we have two different views of the problem to present to the team. I would let the team to decide together with the problem presenters how to deal with the situtation.

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