What you Can Learn From Your Critical Friend?


“Perhaps the Critical Friend comes closest to what might be regarded as ‘true friendship’ – a successful marrying of unconditional support and unconditional critique.” A John MacBeath; Professor of Education Leadership, Cambridge University

A Critical Friend is someone who assists and encourages a business team by providing candid and constructive advice. The practice is widely used across the UK private sector and public sector. A Critical friend merges honest impartiality of a critic with the support of a friend. Although these features may seem to be a contradiction, the mix of these two virtues make their support and guidance invaluable. This leaves the question, should we be more like our Critical Friend in all aspects of our life?

An effective Critical Friend

A Critical Friend will naturally be a good listener, be thoughtful and will think analytically and strategically. Self-assured, logical, and enduring, they work through business issues in a detailed yet insightful manner.

These are attributes that are developed by experience and knowledge, and we think that we should all strive to have these traits.

How a Critical Friend works

Difficult questions will always be asked by a Critical Friend, and they will challenge decisions. With this technique they will create discussions and encourage careful considerations. Each relationship between a business and a critical friend is unique. It is important for each project team and the Critical Friend to define roles and responsibilities in a way that works for them.

Why does your business need a Critical Friend?

Everyone needs guidance, even experts in the field; a Critical Friend is that person they can go to. A Critical Friend can offer unbiased assessment on performance and strategy (both current and future), offer different perspectives as well as act as a board to weigh options thoroughly.

Along with admirable experience a Critical Friend can also bring fresh ideas to a business as well as new methods of working (such as agile).  A Critical Friend is a feasible business option with flexible working on specific projects to identify challenges and bring about solutions.

A team performance can improve significantly from what they learn from their Critical Friend, the Critical Friend will devise action plans, develop objectives, and hold leaders and teams accountable. Because of this the relationship the team develops with their Critical Friend is one based on honesty and trust.

In working with a Critical Friend, businesses are given a space to develop problem solving and think through decisions before implementing them.

NWT as Critical Friends

We are proud to be a team of experienced visionary independent thinkers and fantastic communicators that can create trust and openness between all stakeholders. We can quickly adapt and evaluate information and put forward recommendations based on extensive experience.

Our business consultants have real-world experience in complex high-risk programmes and projects and can participate in business-critical reviews and challenge projects on deliverability, affordability, and value for money. Acting as a Critical Friend, they will engage with, inspire, and challenge senior stakeholders without disturbing wider relationships. Achieving results takes leadership and hard work, and the investment you will make in NWT through Critical Friend Review will help you to deliver the performance and results that you expect and need.

If you choose NWT as your Critical Friend, you will be choosing a team player with the skills and the attitude to thrive in intense and sometimes challenging situations, incisively getting to the heart of issues, delivering difficult messages and being robust and resilient in the face of challenge and delivering and receiving feedback. Check out our Critical Friend portfolio here.

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