Fly on the Wall

A Crowdsourced Approach to Problem Solving
Contributed by

Chris Baynham Hughes

Published December 13, 2021

What Is Fly on the Wall?

This practice is designed to provide a crowdsourced approach to problem solving. The problem is posed to the group by 'the fly' and the group then discusses the problem without any interruption from 'the fly'.

Why Do Fly on the Wall?

All too often we can blind ourselves to a solution to a complex problem we face. "I've tried that", "Ahh, but that won't work because..." These are common responses to solutions suggestions from other people; we cut off the idea at the knees before it has been formed. Through this practice, the 'fly on the wall' must listen and let the conversation flow. They must remain curious and let the ideas fully form before being brought back into the conversation to feedback and add any insight/ commentary upon what has been said.

This particular practice is suited to teams that are working primarily as individuals or pairs rather than those practiced in a 'mob to learn, pair to build' approach. It's a great way to demonstrate the power of group think and inclusive problem solving.

How to do Fly on the Wall?

This is a time boxed exercise.

  1. The 'Fly' outlines the problem, ideally without solutions/ efforts to date. These can be discussed later where applicable. [3-5 minutes]
  2. The team ask any questions about the problem to clarify they understand the problem space.
  3. The team discuss the problem in more depth and start to come up with possible solutions. This practice can be paired with practices such as 10 for 10 and Silent Brainstorming during the group thinking exercise. The 'Fly' listens curiously and makes notes. [10-20 minutes]
  4. The 'Fly' thanks the group and responds to what they have heard. At this point the fly might have some next steps and is ready to move on, they may request to dive into the details from what they have heard, or they may provide further information; e.g., if they have already tried a solution as it was stated and have details/ evidence to bring to the table, this may then lead to a repeat of step 3.

Look at Fly on the Wall

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Fly on the Wall practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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