Are you tired of the unproductive weekly online team meetings? Are you not getting the opportunity to discuss the real issues you would love to get feedback and advice on so that you can progress with your work?

Are you craving for some stimulating and truly curious feedback instead of you-should-do-and-try-this-type of answers to your questions?

Peer consultation processes online are magic. Try it!

When I open up the floor for Troika Consulting in meetings and workshops I facilitate, I see many curious minds. I love the animated and reflective dynamic. Participants are in interaction, actively engaged and leading the discussion. The exchange is driven by their questions and needs, anchored in their contexts. This creates satisfaction.

Read here how to do Troika Consulting online: Bringing Troika Consulting into online collaboration and team meetings – a visual guidance):

The benefits are multiple:

  • Peer to peer learning is a powerful development tool to cultivate potential.
  • In workshop and meeting situations one can tap into the intelligence, experience and inventiveness of a whole group or team to find inspiration and discover new perspectives and pathways.
  • Thinking out loud and showing the work in progress is a reflective practice that strengthens at the same time the process muscle.
  • Taking turns in asking for advice and giving advice builds connection and trust. This ‘give and take’ has a positive influence on the group or team spirit.

Two roles – one mindset

In the various peer consultation processes (see some options below) there are always two active roles to play: asking for advice and giving advice.

Sometimes I observe that articulating a need for help isn’t easy. There is a slight hesitation to name and formulate the challenge out loud or share the real problem. Sometimes participants struggle to find the right words. Or they simply look for validation and not support and discovery.

Giving help isn’t always easy either. As advisors, there is the risk to jump to quick or premature solutions without really understanding the problem. Or the advisors tend to solve the problem themselves instead of supporting the advice seeker in finding her/ his solution. And even worse, the advisor is disappointed when the other person is not taking the advice at heart (even though we know everyone has the freedom to adopt/ integrate or reject it). Michael Bungay Stanier calls it the “advice monster” falling into one of the ‘helper traps’ (see also the ‘help patterns’ listed by Liberating Structures  LINK LS helping heuristics).

Stop offering up advice with a question mark attached! Even when every fibre of your body is twitching with a desire to fix it, solve it, offer a solution to it.
Michael Bungay Stanier

So, how then can we lean into our roles of client and advisors more openly?

“Stay curious a little bit longer”
Listen a little bit deeper
Explore questions a little bit broader

If curiosity is the driver for both roles – asking for help and giving advice – a peer coaching process becomes a guided discovery tour for both parties.

The ability, readiness and willingness to listen in the first place, from both perspectives, is probably the most essential skill in a peer to peer consultation process.  Listening with curiosity to understand the challenge, the questions and thoughts offered by both parties.

Jumping the stage of the curious inquiry is a missed opportunity. Thinking together could shape some options for the way forward that are not only useful for the one asking for help but have some transformational power also for the one in the advisory role. The most simple and most beautiful tool are questions.

What is the real challenge here for you?
And what else?
What do you want?
(Michael Bungay Stanier)

“Stay curious a little bit longer” is a genius advice. If curiosity is the starting point into a peer consultation, beautiful things might happen.

Some options of peer consultation processes online


An excellent option to uncover some advice seeking and giving patterns is Helping Heuristics,  “it makes visible how different methods of helping work and what they make possible“. To do it online, split participants into groups of 4 in breakout rooms, webcam and micro stay open for everyone). What I need from You is fabulous for teams to better articulate needs and challenges (breakout rooms for functional clusters to prepare, for the consultation process play with webcams and microphones off/on). With Heard, Seen, Respected a team can practice deeper listening and stepping into each other’s shoes (pairs in breakout rooms, webcam and micro on for both partners).

Structured peer coaching processes

Troika Consulting: To do it online have groups of three in breakout rooms. Explain the sequence and how to play with the webcam and microphone on/ off to avoid direct advice giving. More details here: Bringing Troika Consulting into online collaboration and team meetings – a visual guidance). Wise Crowds: Is the same as Troika Consulting but in groups of 3-5 consultants and without rotating roles. Case Clinics: Works perfectly fine online in groups 4-5 peers. The process is self-facilitated by each group. As in Troika Consulting, you could consider turning off the webcam and microphone for deeper listening.

Canvas based visualized Coaching

Design for Wiser Action (for supporting the planning of upcoming projects and initiatives) or the Workshop Agenda Shaper can be done online. As a tool for visualisation, you can consider either Google Slides or a whiteboard (like Jamboard, Miro, Mural).

Conversational approaches

Conversational approaches are also suitable for receiving and giving advice online. Unhurried Conversation, Circle Practice, User Experience Fishbowl, Conversation Cafe and Open Space offer the opportunity to share and listen. The focus is on joint inquiry.

Quick inspiration and reframing

Some simple and quick options for receiving and giving advice are 1-2-4-all, Impromptu Networking, Question Storming and Flying Questions (using the chat by answering a question with a question storm, inspired by 25/10 Crowd Sourcing).

Experimental approaches

Action Storming works perfectly fine online. For some challenges, it is best to replay some difficult situations. To act them, say the snippets of dialogue once more. Experience how it feels and discover other options that would have been possible.

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Upcoming workshops

Bringing Your Meetings & Workshops Online: Confident, Creative & Convincing!
5 weekly highly interactive workshops starting on October 22 online on Zoom:

Liberating Structures for Monitoring & Evaluation specialists
Nov 2, and 3 and 4, 2020 on Zoom, each day from 9h00 – 12h00 am CET