Wise Crowds - Peer Consultations

What is this method?

This is a simple method to harvest the group intelligence: A space where a “client” can ask for help of “consultants”. Can also be seen as a quick and powerful tool for coaching each other around specific and individual challenges.

How does the process look like?

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  1. Form groups of 4 to max. 7 people (each person will get 15min time)

  2. Present the flow and structure of the exercise to the people. Introduce the principles:

    A) Flow:
    each person will get the chance to ask as a “client” a group of “consultants” for help

    B) Structure:

    2min client presents challenge

    3min consultants ask clarifying questions

    8min consultants work together (“client” turns around)

    2min feedback

    C) Principles:

    Everyone is included

    Everyone has an equal amount of time to ask for and get help

    Everyone has an equal opportunity to offer help

  3. One person starts by being the “client” and invites others to help him/her. As a facilitator you either indicate the time for the participants with a gong or you let them be in control of timing themselves. If people aren’t used to these kind of processes it’s highly recommended to facilitate the time for the participants.

    The first person goes through the different points (15min). As a facilitator you again point out, that the “client” turns around during the 8min where the consultants work together. The reason is that this helps the client listening and learning. Additionally you may want to point further out, that the 8min consultation may much rather be about the client gaining more personal clarity about the challenge than about “solving” the challenge for the client. In other words, you may want to restrict advice and invite open, honest questions instead.

  4. Repeat that process until everyone has had the opportunity to ask for help

When to use:

The Wise Crowds is a powerful tool to use in a Workshop to achieve different purposes:

  • Help people learn to ask for help and offer

  • Gain individual clarity about next steps

  • Help people collaborate

  • Learn about the potential of collective intelligence

  • Invite cross-sectoral (beyond “silos”) collaboration and insight

  • Practice listening & trust building

Needed tools, materials, people etc.

  • Time: 1h to max 1h45min

  • Material: 1 Flipchart with instructions, paper for the “client” to take notes

  • People: 4 to >100

Sources and further reading:

Our Experience with this Method

Wise Crowds is a method developed by liberating structures and that I got to know through Magdalena Musiala, a senior Facilitator, Trainer and mum based in Malmö that has since the very beginning in 2008 supported the program development of euforia.

At collaboratio helvetica we’ve used this method during the prototyping phase of the Gender Lab. As we were wanting to transition from the personal question of “what is it that life is calling you to do?” to collective action we used several brainstorming-methods and canvases to clarify individual and collective course of action. Once these general directions started to become more tangible it was important to use the intelligence of the diverse Gender Lab Cohort. There are many different methods that serve more or less a similar purpose, known as coaching circles or supervision processes. This process is quite powerful as it offers all the individuals a high-quality feedback round in a short amount of time. And despite that, it can be quite fun!