“Scaling” the team – part two

In the previous post I introduced you to Solution Focused scales and how they can be used in a one-to-one scenario. Now we’ll extend this to a team context, but first, here are some tips…

Tips on using scales

A constructivistic approach is important also when using scales: whatever numbers the client chooses, it must be fine for you as coach. We are working in the client’s reality, so if you believe the client’s 6 is actually a 2 do yourself and the client a favour and don’t say it, both verbally and non verbally! You might – and should, actually – question the client’s assumptions to anchor what [s]he is saying to reality, ask about the feasibility of the various steps up the scale, check the ecology of what the client proposes, but avoid adding content, observations and comments on what the client says. The NLP Meta Model is your dear friend here, as well as more sophisticated rhetoric tools and your attention skills will be very much used in this part. This is actually the part of the whole solution focused approach that, IMO, requires the maximum training and experience to work effectively.

scales used on teams

It follows from what I just wrote that scales are subjective and subject to change: the client might change his/her mind at any time and it typically happens between sessions, where the 8 of the first session becomes the 4 of the next one, because in the meantime the client has understood much better what is the goal and what [s]he could reach. And it’s perfectly fine for me if that happens. I like to check what happened that made the client change his/her mind, but I’m perfectly fine with that!

With a team

Working with scales in a team is in principle the same as the one-to-one case, just asking each team member to rate a certain aspect on a scale from 1 to 10, then where they would like to be, … but with a few relevant differences:

  • The ratings could vary a lot. I had situations of some team members rating a certain parameter as 3 and others as 8. This might trigger some analysis of why there is such a difference, but, in fact, this is irrelevant. Actually this is exactly the case where it is important, as a moderator, to give equal importance and value to all opinions. Sometimes a stronger moderation is required to avoid some team members to start arguing on the validity of the ratings. As a moderator, your role is to affirm and defend each rating as being a valuable opinion.
  • You can still ask the same questions as in the one-to-one case, though asking about the +1 rating could require individual answers. It’s still +1, just the process is done individually or in smaller groups.
  • The level to reach on the scale with the problem solved can also be different among team members, and that’s ok as well, it’s just different opinions, all worth the same consideration.

Using scales requires some practice, especially when using them as part of a group process, but the results you could achieve are well worth the effort. Waiting for your feedback on this!

4 thoughts on ““Scaling” the team – part two”

  1. Thanks for your comment Rolf. What you describe is a very well known tool in the coaching world that goes under different names and is described in different flavours. I have “met” it as “Team Wheel”, “Team Radar” and a few other names. In fact, these are all variations of what has the more arcane name of “Sociometric Constellation”.
    However, the sociometric constellations are not a solution-focused type of work: the constellations are a way to “measure” something, make it visible, make it possible to discuss it. In solution focus we move it two steps forward:
    – one step by not just mapping the current situation, but also asking where should they be once the problem is solved and
    – one step by linking the desired/solution state with reality through the measures for the change.

  2. Pierluigi, Thanks for providing some synonyms and related ideas! Didn’t know a “Team Wheel” variant existed – can you point me to some resource here?
    With respect to constellations: sure, finding helpful ways to allow everybody on the team to express her personal assessment of “n” is only a part of the scaling exercise, but then, I never found the solution-focused community shy away from integrating and adapting the work of others. Even de Shazer got the basic scaling idea from one of his clients and evolved it.

  3. I mostly saw this in the various training I visited, though I believe I have read about it in the various books about seminar games. Being a basic tool of the trade, you should be able to find it everywhere. One place where this is described is http://www.amazon.de/Methodensammlung-Trainerinnen-Trainer-Peter-Dürrschmidt/dp/3936075298 (in German).
    Agree on the second part of your comment. As a matter of fact I am also using what you mention when I need a quick visual feedback (and, actually, I use it also as a voting and participant introduction tool too) and these workshop tools are part of the training and coaching world since ages (but then, why so many agile authors do not mention the sources???). My point in my previous comment is that just visualising a team’s situation is different from using it as a solution focused tool – two different tools that start in the same way.

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