Observation Tower

AB001027Rapport Leadership International uses process when taking a group or team of people through a learning exercise.

Below is a Rapport Leadership process you can take your team through to help discover the power of observation.


To gain insights into problem solving and decision making by observing potential solutions through the eyes and thoughts of others. Learn the power of listening to the perspectives of others to improve your own thinking abilities.


The challenge with individual problem solving stems from our automatic tendency to search our past experiences for solutions. We often become stuck in our thinking because we constantly re-map our brain with old paradigms and conditioned habits. By allowing others to work on our challenges, we have the opportunity to see things from a completely different perspective.

The observation role is extremely powerful because it allows us to detach ourselves from personal thinking patterns and see how others think, feel and act in a given situation. Just as an observation tower is used to view events from a distance, this exercise will allow an individual to observe different points of view and gain valuable insights about the process of thinking.

Set Up:

Prepare one flip chart with plenty of markers for every four participants. Have pads and pens available for journaling. Gather all participants and ask them to think of an individual problem, challenge or dilemma that requires brainstorming and problem solving.

Divide the participants into groups of four. Have one person share their challenge with the other three group members. The individual sharing their problem will avoid discussing any potential situations and refrain from leading the group down any specific path. The goal of the initial set up is to provide clarity around the issue at hand. Once the group members have a good understanding of the issue, the person sharing the problem will step back into the metaphorical “observation tower” to observe the process.

(Have the observer stand back about five feet from the group so their presence does not influence the group discussion.)


Step 1: (Five Minutes)

Observer: The observer will journal initial thoughts and feelings about the observation tower exercise. Have them consider what it feels like to let others work on their problem without having any influence over the upcoming dialogue. As the group begins their discussion, continue to journal insights.

Group: Inform the group that they will have four brainstorming phases, each lasting between two and five minutes. Instruct the group to frame the issue at hand into one concise problem statement and write it on the flip chart. Under the problem statement, discuss and list any facts and/or possible root causes.

Step 2: (Two Minutes)

Observer: Encourage the observer to continue journaling all thoughts, feelings and insights.

Group: The group will now discuss any feelings, emotions and intuitions they may have about the problem.

Step 3: (Five Minutes)

Observer: Encourage the observer to continue journaling all thoughts, feelings and insights.

Group: The group will brainstorm potential action plans, specific steps and necessary resources needed to address the issue. Ensure all thoughts are recorded on the flip chart.

 Step 4: (Four Minutes)

Observer: Encourage the observer to continue journaling all thoughts, feelings and insights.

Group: The group brainstorms the ideal outcome and solutions to the problem. Discuss and write out the ultimate vision to the problem/challenge.

Step 5: (Ten Minute Debrief)

  1. Have all participants come together to debrief the process. Discuss the following questions:
  2. How did it feel to be the observer?
  3. How does it feel to not have an opportunity to discuss the problem with your team again?
  4. How confident does the group feel that they have come up with a viable action plan and solution?
  5. What did the group say and discuss that you would not have considered if you had completed the problem solving on your own?
  6. What are the benefits of observing?
  7. How can we improve our own thinking process everyday?


Learning to expand our thinking capabilities will improve anyone’s overall performance. As we address new problems, we must use collective and collaborative thinking processes. By listening to others perspectives and ideas we truly see the world more as it is and not just as we are.

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