Teachable Moments of Leadership

28 Videos to Make Leadership Real in your Team

PLANNING (to teach with Case-in-Point)

As you set yourself to experiment with this powerful methodology, the issue of planning a Case-in-Point session becomes very important. We both remember the sense of disorientation we felt the first time we decided to teach using Case-in-Point: the paradox of planning an hour of our highly structured leadership programs without…a plan!

Truth is: to this day we are still not sure, and we continue to compare notes on how best to do this. But we have found that four simple questions might have great value, especially as you approach Case-in-Point for the first time. 

Download a Case-in-Point session planner, here with the four questions:

1. What is alive in the group and what matters to these people?
2. Which Adaptive Leadership framework concepts might predictably come alive in this session?
3. What experiments/learning tasks could I design for the group to experience the concept/s that will predictably come alive in the room?
4. Which questions might be helpful to catalyze learning during the experiment/learning task?

Three sample planners below were generated when preparing for Case-in-Point sessions with participants’ profiles as different as federal employees, the staff of a non-profit organization, and students in a graduate course:

  1. Download here the Case-in-Point planner for a leadership program for a federal agency in Washington, DC
  2. Download here the Case-in-Point planner for a session in a team coaching workshop for a non-profit organization in Atlanta, GA
  3. Download here the Case-in-Point planner for a large MBA class at a prestigious university on the West Coast.

It is obvious that you cannot plan what is going to happen minute-by-minute as you do for your lectures or for more conventional approaches. However what you can do is create a blueprint, a structure, or a list of what is most likely to happen, a set of scenarios that are most likely to unfold. Again the caveat is that if you get too attached, you run the risk of missing the more fertile ground: what's happening in the moment and in the room. And that is at odds with the magic of the methodology. Rather than a set plan, the “lesson plan” for a Case-in-Point session looks more like a reflection on the session itself. It is an educated prediction of those dynamics most likely to materialize in the room, how to use those dynamics for your teaching purposes and which questions might be handy to move the conversation forward and enhance the learning.

If you have a one-hour segment, we strongly recommend you hold to strict time limits and split the available time in two: a Case-in-Point session (30 or 40 minutes) where you are mostly silent aside from a few questions you plant here and there, and a rich debriefing of the Case-in-Point session (20 or 30 minutes) when you rewind what happened, share what you observed and use it to restate your learning purpose (possibly capturing in writing the key insights from the group).

In Summary
While the planning stage of using Case-in-Point is vital, perhaps more vital is embracing the philosophy that the plan is simply a first best guess. As the session takes flight, the plan offers an outline but cannot precedes what is alive in the room. To embrace Case-in-Point is to embrace the idea that ultimately the session will begin to have a life of its own. The astute facilitator is poised to help shape that momentum and to look for moments that will illustrate the leadership content he aims to explore. The ability to connect to purpose—in this case, the purpose of seeing key leadership concepts surface in the room— is what allows the session to move from disequilibrium to an energized, dynamic learning space.

Throughout the session, the facilitator is constantly making decisions about the next steps and recalibrating along the way. These decisions, or choice points, are a hallmark of the framework. As the facilitator approaches a crossroads, his interventions shape the next phase of the session. In our comments to the video clips, you will notice that we have discussed not only what the facilitator chose to do in a given moment but also, on occasion, alternative paths she might have pursued. We include those possibilities to underscore the notion that Case-in-Point is more an improvisational art than science.