Leading a Case Discussion

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when I think about leading I actually

believe it or not I start with before

class because if you just arrived a

minute before class I think you're not

really making the most of of this kind

of getting engaged and involved I would

arrive at least 15 minutes early it

gives the instructor a little bit of a

feel of the room there maybe even with a

well-established classroom important to

go back and check and make sure for

example if audio-visual materials are

being used that those are working

sometimes there will be some presetting

on the board

occasionally the instructor will want to

put maybe some summary facts of the case

or reference elements up and may want to

arrive early to pre-board those and I

think very importantly have a chance to

begin to interact a bit with the

participants what's on their mind do

they have any high-level reactions to

this case going in and this again may be

different from a lecturer who might

decide to just arrive a couple of

minutes before the lecture starts if we

move on from the pre class the beginning

of the session is is the opening they

call it the instructor opening and this

can contain various elements and to

really frame the session kind of why are

we here why is this important what are

we hoping to accomplish today really

ground this so that expectations are

aligned with with the discussion to come

so you're here you have the CEO the

chair of the Audit Committee we have the

external auditors and they're all

looking at the situation maybe from

slightly different perspectives and

figuring out the next steps ok so that

will takes us from the opening now into

the the first discussion pasture and

within any part of the discussion there

they're really three critical elements

to leading the discussion and those that

we think about it is this tripart

questioning listening and responding

when it comes to questioning you want to

think about is there a question that you

can use to to essentially get the

participants to exercise some judgment

a question that will engage for example

in diagnosing a problem assessing or

evaluating a situation or maybe a leader

in the case so you start by talking to

your legal counsel internal and external

then what happens after that often

situations like this will be kind of a

high in terms of listening listening is

really important to the case method

really listen with curiosity where are

they coming from

don't don't rush to judgment in

listening to the comment and as you

begin listening you know listen for

what's the core idea or ideas in this

comment you know I'm asking this get

vote help me out so I'm not confronting

him directly but why not well because I

might be wrong yeah but I'm a nice guy

I'm from California

I'm kind of laid-back I don't want to

get into a confrontation with my CFO

particularly if you know if there's

nothing wrong so we've talked about

questioning and listening and then the

third element is responding so there are

a number of options

once you've posed a question and you

hear response on the part of the

participant I think it's important first

of all just to acknowledge the

contribution so whether it's simply yes

or interesting or somehow letting the

participant know that you've heard

you're listening for opportunities to

generate debate that's right large any

growth wouldn't do it you're looking for

areas of tension and disagreement a

discussion that's just where everybody

agrees on everything there's not much

learning going on there right but if

there's a point at which reasonably

well-informed smart people view it

differently there's a great opportunity

to dig in and kind of orchestrating

those debates I think as part of the

role of the case method kind of seemed

like he was strong-arming both

the internal auditor and also the

controllers one of the things you'll

find in leading a case discussion is

that there are always some participants

who are very active very energetic and

managing balancing those participants

relative to some participants who may be

very quiet

they may be shy they may not want to

speak in a large group maybe they're a

little bit more reflective maybe they're

not as well prepared there can be many

reasons why some participants are less

engaged or quieter than others and so

throughout the discussion you want to

think a little bit about are we having a

balance here in participation

particularly you have a large number of

participants that some folks feel that

they just aren't part of the

conversation and so managing that in a

respectful way I think is important as

an overlay to all of this questioning

listening responding