What I Need From You (WINFY)

Surfacing needs and working across functions and disciplines


The WINFY structure is a tool devised for people working in different departments of the same company to improve the way they ask each other for what they need to accomplish their objectives. While highlighting the important fact that they all belong to the same work team pursuing commong goals, the activity focuses on articulating core needs, which in turn are met by clear and congruous responses.


How to use it

  • Practice articulating your needs clearly, and asking for what you need.
  • Practice giving clear answers.
  • Re-establish and improve communication.
  • Make progress across functional silos.
  • Lay out all the issues simultaneously for everyone to see.

How to apply it

  • Invite participants to ask for what they need from their colleagues (often in different functions or disciplines) to be successful.
  • Invite others to respond to requests unambiguously.

One small group of 3-7 people in a circle or several small groups. With a large group, the Fishbowl form could be used.


Notepads to record needs and responses.

  • 5-10 minutes: Individually, participants make a list of their top 2 needs for each of the others in the circle, formulated as a request. They have to formulate the needs in a form that can be delivered with care and nuance in the following form, “What I need from you is _____.”
  • 15 minutes: One by one, each person states their two needs to each person around the table. At this stage, no answers or responses are given by anyone.
  • 5-10 minutes: Individually (or by conferring with others that share your role or function) write down one of four responses to each request: yes, no, I will try, or whatever (see definition below in the Tips section).
  • 10 minutes: One person addresses one member of the group at a time, repeating the request made to them, then sharing their response (yes, no, I will try, or whatever).
  • 15 minutes: Debrief.

How to adapt it

Case study


WINFY workshop


ITC-ILO Liberating Structures Workshop


Haley Horan, delta@itcilo.org


The “What I Need from You Knotworking” structure was used to help people in different functions ask more precisely for what they need and understand more fully what other functions can offer. Participants were asked to join groups according to the department or function they represented:  Prodev, Training, Services Cluster, and Learning and Communications. Each group took 15 minutes to decide one “ask” from each of the other units (what their unit would need from each of the other units). One representative of that group then conveyed these “asks” to the other groups. The groups conferred amongst themselves on the potential to address each of the “asks” from the different units. Then the representatives of the groups responded “yes,” “no,” “maybe” or “whatever.”

A brief elaboration on these responses was allowed after the exercise. The exercise helped to break down silos and enhance communication flows, and highlighted the goodwill of colleagues to work together.


  • Whatever means your request was too vague to provide a specific answer.
  • Strictly enforce the “no immediate response” rule.
  • Strictly enforce that the only responses are yes, no, I will try, or whatever (no further elaboration is allowed).
  • Encourage everyone to ask for what they truly need to be successful.
  • Have fun and encourage a safe amount of drama.
  • Don’t include more than 7 roles/functions to avoid confusion.
  • Use question-and-response cards to help groups sharpen how they express needs.
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