‘Fly on the Wall’ consultancy

I thought I’d share with you this week one of the most effective, yet simplest, consultancy techniques I have seen used.  It does not involve great expense, or even take a great deal of time. It does not involve reading lengthy consultancy reports or attending turgid feedback sessions.  In fact, it uses the resources and brains you already have at your disposal in your teams today.

fly-on-wallGather together a good cross-section of people  (but no more than about 8-10), from up and down the organisation,  ideally with different perspectives of your business, from both an internal and external facing focus.  Invite the ‘owner’ of the business problem or issue that requires ‘consultancy’ to spend 5-10mins (no more) outlining the issue. No prolonged explanations about why things won’t work, or haven’t worked. Just a simple, easy to understand, explanation of the facts, what is trying to be achieved, and what the business benefits will be once realised.

The collected group then have 5 mins to ask questions of clarification. Nothing more at this stage. No engagement with the ‘problem owner’ on solutions or viability or opinions about the benefits.

The ‘problem owner’ then moves out of the group, and takes a seat out of sight but within listening distance. Their job from now is simply to listen and not interject, interrupt or comment.

The group then start a facilitated discussion about what they would do, what they think might work, how they would overcome obstacles, who they would involve, and so on. Depending on the size and scale of the issue, the time allowed for this may vary, but typically 40-45 mins will be adequate.

You will be amazed what can be achieved in around 1 hour, and the ‘problem owner’, when invited to report back to the group, will inevitably declare that they have new ideas and alternative perspectives that they had not thought of previously. They may be re-energised in tackling the issue or they may realise that what they are trying to do is not the best course of action.  Either way, valuable feedback to be aware of.

Of course, the efficacy of these sessions will depend on the mindset with which all participants approach them. You may have to do some up front work on preparing people for the approach and the role they are expected to take.  But, the benefits of doing this go way beyond simply getting better answers to business problems. Additional benefits include:

  • Raising the analytical skills of your workforce (at all levels)
  • Tapping into the rich seams of knowledge that already exist inside your organisation
  • Enhancing the ‘listening’ skills of your people
  • Encouraging greater engagement and wider collaboration


If you feel that you (or members of your team) would benefit from exploring ways to make substantial improvements to personal and collective effectiveness and productivity, please get in touch. Tailored learning programmes are available that have delivered proven benefits, whether your current focus is on:

  • a need to engage your workforce in a positive and compelling way through a transformation
  • how to ensure you get the best out of your investment in talent 
  • ensuring your senior teams, team leaders & middle managers are equipped to handle the conversations that are needed to ensure your organisation is operating as effectively and productively as it could be. 

Simply submit your contact details on the Contact Us page and I will be delighted to get in touch with you for an informal initial chat.


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