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Workshop 2: Defining the 'Central 
Question' - The Problem or the 

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Aim's for Workshop 2:

  • Recognising complexity

  • Getting comfortable with ambiguity

  • Defining the problem - seeking clarity and alignment, back-briefing

  • Defining the problem space - beware of homophily

  • Understanding today's reality

  • What do others bring - capabilities, skills, attitudes and behaviours?


Be continuously curious to clarify the problem

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Explore a diverse set of perspectives...

An unintelligent team

The Problem Space...

Homogenous/Team of Clones

An intelligent team

The Problem Space...

Diverse/Team of Rebels

A Diverse Team

The Problem Space...

With a Dominance Dynamic

Back-briefing to gain clarity - 4 steps

Deepening understanding and aligning around the problem


Step One - Initial exploratory discussion

At any one time leaders in complex organisations the can have up to 20 high-level challenges or opportunities on their mind at a time. Some will be embryonic and ill-defined, some more developed, but all are competing for the leader attention. Leaders have limited capacity to deal with everything at once. We use this initial discussion to explore these challenges in more detail and build an understanding of the need and the priority.


Step Two - Our response - Back-brief

Having listened and questioned the need, we respond by back-briefing both 'what' we have heard and our understanding of 'why' it's important to them. We add in and share our own 'how' with the specific action we will take. 


Step Three - Feedback and alignment

Having shared your understanding of the problem and initial thinking on actions you propose taking, you seek feedback to ensure you are aligned on the intent, desired impact, priorities and actions.


Step Four - Take action

Not all problems are easy to solve. Solutions to complex problems typically rely on multiple layers of insight and therefore require multiple points of view. Your proposed actions may well involve some deeper 'discovery' of the problem, its causes, and impact on others. Aim to find people with different perspectives on the problem at hand. As you start to take action, stay agile and be ready to course correct if a chosen path is blocked or not delivering results. Keep stakeholders appraised of progress and any significant change of direction, especially if it impacts on outcomes or timescales.

Steps in building client conversations and relationships

Discover - initial discussion

Build authentic relationships, mutual trust and unearth client's stated needs and unidentified needs.

  • Engage the client on joint inquiry to determine what is actually needed.

  • No matter how clear the request for help is, pause and reflect for a moment before responding, and then decide in what way to respond.

  • Ask yourself what is it you truly do not know.

  • Be careful not to get too interested in the content of the client's story until you have built a relationship.

  • Get acquainted with your own desires to help the client achieve success.

  • Check out your own emotions and intentions before offering and giving help.

  • Honour your commitment by confirming the date, time and venue for the next meeting. Commit to providing written feedback to the client (Thought Provoking insights) and when you will provide this.

  • Research with curiosity and ask colleagues for information to learn more about the client/organisation/industry.

  • Keep other consultants and account managers informed by documenting details/insights and learnings gained from the meeting.

Develop - deepening relationship

Continue to build trust through authentic relationships, providing insights and building confidence in our ability to meet client's needs.

  • From 'discover', highlight the opportunity for the client to achieve a sustainable transformation.

  • Reflect on the conversation/s and analyse the information obtained to identify the right issues for the client.

  • Ensure that the client's desire for change is supported by the motivation to undertake the change.

  • Share your helping problem with your FDM Strategic Consulting colleagues.

  • Collaborate with colleagues to generate and pursue insights to address the client issues.

  • Prepare a Thought Provoking insights document as follows:

    • Document to be unique for each client. Avoid cut and paste of other content: Integrate appropriate considerations to generate insights

    • Accurately reflect the conversation by replaying the key points (demonstrate that you listened to the task and emotion)

    • Document to be sent to the client via the preferred medium on or before the agreed time.

  • Pre-qualify the client relationship using the criteria:

    • ​Have we built a trusting relationship, is there a need and do we fully understand the problem, does the organisation have the propensity to pay?

Define - defining scope and contracting

Be deliberate about creating shape, form and boundaries to meet the client's needs. This is formalised in a Terms of Reference and commercial agreement document.

  • Provide the Terms of Reference using the standard template

  • Provide the commercial agreement document and after agreement, a clear and unambiguous presentation of the costs to deliver the outcomes.

  • Use the client preferred language to remove jargon.

  • Clear and unambiguous presentation of outcomes to be achieved with clear alignment to original need identified with client. Outcomes not methodologies are to be presented (purpose, scope, outcomes and timeline).

  • Clear and unambiguous presentation of the value that the outcomes will achieve and how they will be measured.

Looking forward to workshop 3

Workshop 3 will focus on 'Building empathy and trust'

Trust, or the willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of another, is a very high quality of relationship and one that takes both time and effort to create.  True trust comes from shared experiences.  The challenge for us, as FDM Strategic Consultants, is to go beyond transactions with our clients and create opportunities to collaborate, work together and generate the shared experiences within which trust can grow.

Ahead of Workshop 3 reflect on your relationship with your client and answer the questions below

Outputs From Workshop 2

What has progressed well


  1. Early success with discoveries - HSBC 35 and Rolls Royce

  2. Real world application - templates, etc deployed

  3. Discovery process improved

  4. Good collateral/artefacts and personnel

  5. Some job roles/descriptions clearer

  6. Increasing clarity on priority/target 'strategic' clients - Some culture shifting in sales

What hasn't progressed as planned


  1. Team ways of working - solo mode. Team not entirely aligned eg separate vs joined up, eg KYC/BA specific or "complementary". Need time to discuss, focus on teamwork, be aware of the silos.

  2. Sales collateral

  3. Team knowledge sharing

  4. Artefacts - some fallen by the wayside - inc Wifi/content - Time pressure with other priorities

  5. More work to be done with the business

Defining the problem - case studies

The following draft case studies were developed from the responses to the 'Define the Problem Survey'.

The following case studies were worked on during the workshop

Client : HSBC


What we know

Global Head of Internal Audit

What we don't yet know, but would love to know

Don't know all of the stakeholders


Lack of new auditors

  • Where they come from

  • Why are people leaving (is there career progression)?

  • Is it the same profile in each location?


UK, US, Canada, Poland, Hong Kong. Need an October 2022 start

What is the driver for October?

How often?


  • Reduced cost of acquiring new talent

  • Reduce pressure on existing teams

What did they do in the past?

Who else could provide these capabilities - why FDM?

Additional questions

Who are the usual competitors? Can they supply into this space?

How many do they need at each location? What's the split?

How do we build in a sustainable scalable way?

What is meant by an auditor/new auditor - is this something achievable for FDM?

What's their attrition level?
Is it a specific auditing skillset?
Attrition vs Intake

KYC/ Remobilisation work

Why pick FDM? What did we do differently from other suppliers? How do we ensure we deliver?

Do they need career progression if it's a transient role?


Client : BT

What we know

What we don't yet know, but would love to know


Enterprise Agile Team

  • Dave (budget holder)

  • Ian Hammond

Sign-off for the overall squad?


Reliance on contractors

  • agile coaching

  • Architecture

Increase agile adoption.

Reduce external costs - by finding a partner to build the IP internally

  • Future pipeline of demand

  • Ways of working

  • Resource profiles - Telco specifics and expertise

  • BT ways of working


Across all delivery sites.

Squads across programmes (Resource Hub)

  • Expectation of Hybrid

  • Where pilot team will be based


  • Greater control

  • Reduced costs

  • Better run projects

  • Volume of work

  • Consistency

  • Knowledge transfer

  • Motive/Future Vision

  • Ramifications

  • SOW/T&M

Additional questions


Does the agile team already exist? And, are there tools to support this - JIRA?

David Astbury

Serco Brief:

Serco wants a new PPM tool to replace Projects Online which is about to be out of service, so they need a new tool suggested from us. During our onsite experience, we found that there is an underlying problem. FDM was there to articulate their inconsistency of project management as a reliable outside party, pointing the direction for changes.

Client : Serco

What we know

What we don't yet know, but would love to know


Anyone who works in the projects in Serco (both IT and non-IT). 

Sponsors: Head of Sales/deliver/...key stakeholders

Are we satisfied with the timeframe this was done in?

Would they be happy to re-use FDM's service?

Who holds the budget/decision maker?


Need a new PPM tool to replace Project Online.

No consistent way to manage projects so no tool solves the problem completely.

We assume that the client:

  • Knows how to run projects consistently, has project in place.

  • Can do anything that's independent from tools (PPM tools)

How can we use what was done on Serco and apply it to other companies?


People everywhere in Serco who run projects.

By the end of year they want a new selected PPM tool (licences might end by then) onboard

How can you define a problem with clarity without closing out wider opportunities?

When is the right time to exit?


  • Fundamental reasons:

  • Their project management process across the whole org is immature and not consistent

  • Might need an outsider's view to observe and point out the problems.

How to know the politics upfront? Evidence based discovery.

Feelings at the end of Workshop 2








Growing - more Knowledge

Uncertain - Less talk, more action




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