The constructive rant
At a recent Charity Agile Leaders Club we shared one of our favourite tools – the constructive rant. It’s a simple four step framework for uncovering what’s really going on in a certain situation and getting to a tangible solution together, and quickly.
This tool is also a powerful way to uncover opportunities to get people on board with new ways of working.
A versatile tool that we use often
We love it because it creates a healthy, safer space where concerns are welcomed and not pushed under the carpet. It puts the power in the hands of everyone involved to constructively create the changes they want to see. We also find it’s quicker and more impactful than a large group discussion.
Use it to:
- Uncover and mitigate concerns about trying new ways of working, or when something has gone wrong, when there are tensions or conflict.
- To kick start a new team, project or piece of work thoughtfully, or if you’re new to leading it.
- To uncover opportunities to get people on board with new ways of working.
- To drive honest reflection sessions, team retrospectives or use as a coaching tool 1:1 with leaders or team members.
A simple four-step framework
1. Create a small, safe environment
By creating a small, safe space, you allow for the individual to feel they can speak more openly and honestly. The smaller the group the better, ideally in twos. Bear in mind power dynamics and try to pair people up with someone they feel comfortable with.
2. Hold space for an uniterrupted rant
You can ask “what has been challenging, annoying or hard recently?” or “what gets in the way of you doing your best work”. Don’t shy away from asking a question that really digs into the greatest challenges. Give the person a clear time box; 3 minutes works well from our experience. The key here is creating space and making sure the person feels confident they will not be interrupted. Silence is also welcome.
3. Alternatives to move you forwards
This is all about what is wanted instead and what the individual wants to happen next. You can ask “So what is it you want to happen?” or “what do you want instead?” We suggest that this is also time-boxed to 3 minutes so that you get to alternatives quickly. Note down what the other person says and again, no interrupting!
4. Commit to a small thing you'll try together
Agree one thing you’ll try that you think will improve things. If you’re facilitating a team have them share their solutions and identify themes before picking one action the team will take. If you’re working 1:1 one or both of you might take away an action. The key is to make sure you both leave the session feeling very clear about exactly what you will try next, keep it small, specific and realistic.
Amnesty Digital Engagement team's remote constructive rant
- Split into pairs.
- Person one speaks for 3 minutes about whatever they have found. challenging, annoying or hard lately. Strictly no interruption!
- Swap over.
- Person one speaks for 3 minutes answering the question “so what is it that you want to happen?”. Person two writes down the top idea.
- Swap over.
- The team shared all their potential solutions, clustered them into themes and then voted on one idea they would try next.
Ready to run your own constructive rant ?
- Brush up on your facilitation skills both online and offline with our course – Facilitation for Impact.
- Use our FREE mural board template to run your session online.
- Read more about how to run a really good retrospective / reflection session.
- All credit to the brain behind the original constructive rant, John Brooker.