IAF Methods

Collegial Consultancy Exercise

by for . Last edit was over 2 years ago
30 - 180 4 - 8

Giving a colleague reflective questions about an issue they are concerned about -- not giving advice.

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To enable colleagues in a team setting to offer reflective questions about an issue one of the members is concerned about.


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    Setting: Flip chart and markers

    Number of participants: 4-8

    Types of participants: Any who are willing to volunteer.


    Collegial consultancy is one form of structured teamwork that I'd like to introduce to you this morning. The key to this technique is providing a colleague with questions he or she can use to think through (not necessarily solve) issues that he or she faces. You are out to give your colleague the benefit of your perspective.

    Collegial consultancy has a few assumptions:
    1. You may provide a colleague with reflective help (like a consultant), but his problem is ultimately his to solve: he/she is the Issue Owner.

    2.  As a useful consultant, you are not asked to tell your colleague what to do, rather you want to give your colleague reflective questions that they can use to think through their issue.
    3. The content of the discussion is property of the team - it doesn't go out of the meeting. 

    Do you have questions about the technique?  I'm suggesting we try it out as an exercise. Most teams take a while to get the hang of this,  it is not easy, since we all tend to want to apply our own way of doing things to our colleagues' work, which is not always much help! If you like it, we can use it again. If you don't like it, you've learned something you don't like.

    1. One person volunteers to share a work issue that he or she would like some help in thinking through. That individual describes the issue, and answers objective questions about its content.
    2. Consultants: silently write 3 - 5 reflective questions for the issue owner. After 5 minutes, select your best one and write it on a sheet of paper.

    3. Go around the table: read your selected question to the Issue Owner, and pass him/her the paper.

    4. Issue Owner: for each question, say whether or not you find it helpful - give your immediate feeling (but don't answer the question)
    5. Closing: Issue Owner say which question/s you will use to work with.

    6. If desired, the group can do a second round.

    7. If there is additional time, a second Issue Owner may volunteer, and the whole process may be repeated.

    • This is an exercise of teamwork. What remarks or comments stick in your mind from our discussion here?
    • What is difficult in this process?
    • What is helpful in this process?
    • Let's make two lists: Qualities of Helpful Questions and Qualities of Unhelpful Questions 
    • What are other situations in which helpful questions are important?


    1. It can help to have the three rules written on a flip chart to begin the session.
    2. If you can't get a volunteer at all, be prepared to be the issue owner yourself.
    3. Have flip charts prepared for the two lists.


    Follow-Up Required: Further meetings

    Usual or Expected Outcomes: One of the team members has a number of reflective questions to consider in solving their problem.


    Derived from: Action Research and Action Learning.

    History of Development: Reg Reavens is the father of action research and action learning. It was further developed by Mike Pedler and others. This particular exercise was developed by Maureen Jenkins to teach what is called "Intervisie" in Dutch. It is widely used in business and other settings.

    Alternative names: Intervisie (Dutch)

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