Troika consulting – I help you, you help me, everyone helps everyone else, now and forever…

All evidence points in the same direction: the best way to be happy in life is to be a little less concerned with oneself and to be a little more caring about others.

This is one of the many touches of magical light of the Liberating Structure ‘Troika Consulting’.

What is Troika Consulting?

Troika Consulting is a simple ‘peer support’ participation format. Set up in triads (or ‘troikas’, ie. groups of 3), everyone gets to get some free support (‘consulting’) on an issue they’re facing. And the support givers become the support receiver in one of the three rounds of consulting.

How does it work?

As explained on the above-mentioned page, here are the -very simple- steps to it:

  • Invite participants to reflect on the consulting question (the challenge and the help needed) they plan to ask when they are the clients. 1 min.
  • Groups have first client share his or her question. 1-2 min.
  • Consultants ask the client clarifying questions. 1-2 min.
  • Client turns around with his or her back facing the consultants
  • Together, the consultants generate ideas, suggestions, coaching advice. 4-5 min.
  • Client turns around and shares what was most valuable about the experience. 1-2 min.
  • Groups switch to next person and repeat steps.
Troika Consulting in practice (Credits: The Liberators)

Troika Consulting in practice (Credits: The Liberators)

Find out more about it here.

What’s the magic behind it?

I find formats such as Troika Consulting an incredibly powerful mechanism for different reasons:

Much like a ‘peer assist’, not only the person being helped (the ‘assistee’) gets valuable advice, but others get help too in the process since the tips come out openly.

The brevity of the different steps, and in this case of disclosing the ‘case’ or ‘issue’ forces the assistee to formulate their question or request for support more clearly and crisply. It also helps them ask for help (it’s not easy).

Unlike a peer assist, Troika ends up being much more of a conversation between the two helpers, and that opens up more ‘informal’ insights that people might shy away from in a more formal and open format.

Because everyone turns to helping others and being helped, it creates a reciprocity bond that really builds up relationships without emphasising it. And that, to me, is really one of killer features of Troika Consulting. It’s the power of hot and fuzzy disguised as (nearly) evidence-based, objective support. So much for the human connection skeptics 😉

Because of the structure and forced ‘silence’ for the assistee, Troika also  stimulates our ability to listen carefully – something that we can never emphasise and practice enough 😉

By the same token, it also removes the defensiveness that the assistee would probably display otherwise. This absence of defensive reactions stands for suspending judgment and it encourages the two consultants to be more genuine, to keep going deeper in their conversation and to generate insights that can potentially lead to real breakthroughs that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

And because this Troika happens without any external support, it actually stimulates any group using it to build their capacity to self-organise and, for all the good reasons mentioned above, to keep doing so in ever stronger and deeper ways.

I have used Troika Consulting many times now and have always been surprised at how powerful that little technique is both at helping, gelling, surprising, energising, challenging people with one another. And the applications are nearly limitless… how about some Troika Consulting in your next class / book review / sports team game / friends’ get-together / holiday planning / family gathering ;)?

If you don’t know where to start with it, let me know and I’ll be happy to help!

 

LS Festival (image credits: Nadia von Holzen)

Troika Consulting will be one of the Structures that we will be exploring during the upcoming ‘Liberating Structures Festival‘ (7-11 October, The Hague, The Netherlands)…

 

 

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