Prep Time:
Time to run:
1-3 hours

Fly-on-the-wall observation template

An approach to conducting field research in an unobtrusive manner

Courtesy of our friends at

Use this template in situations where you cannot speak directly with people, or do not want to interrupt the flow of their activities while conducting your research.

When left to their own devices, people are likely to say or do things that they’re not aware of and would not be able to articulate, even if prompted. If you can watch and listen without interfering, you have a chance to capture people’s natural behavior.

Remember to pay careful attention to people’s tasks and workflow, taking note of the information, tools, and people they rely upon to do what they do. Also be mindful of the surrounding environment, understanding that peripheral objects, sounds, and people may affect outcomes.

The fly-on-the-wall template helps you:

  • Conduct research and gather insights that may be overlooked through traditional means
  • Understand real versus stated workflows and behaviors
  • Identify contextual elements or surroundings that may play a role in outcomes

How to use the fly-on-the-wall template

To use the Mural fly-on-the-wall template most effectively, follow the steps outlined below.

1. Identify and define the goal

The first step is to define your goals for the research you’re conducting. This should be no longer than a phrase or one sentence for the purposes of this template.

2. Plan the observation

Use the second section of the template to plan how you’ll conduct your research. The categories to consider include:

  • What’s the subject of investigation?
  • What’s the best location?
  • Whom do you want to observe?
  • What activities do you want to observe?
  • What access or permissions do you need?
  • What tools or materials are necessary to capture what you see?

3. Conduct your investigation and record what you see

The third section of the template helps break down your observations across categories and add any further materials (like images, sketches, or videos) to your mural.

Note: You can assign multiple notetakers to help give extra depth to your investigation. This template suggests having a primary and secondary notetaker, but you can add more team members if you’d like.

4. Identify themes and record key takeaways

Once you’ve conducted your research and recorded as much information as possible during the investigation, it’s time to analyze the data and look for groups or themes that can help inform action items.

Tips for running a fly-on-the-wall observation

To get the most out of your fly-on-the-wall research, you should:

  • Clearly define the goal so that all your notetakers are aligned on what information is key to your research — this will keep everyone focused on the right things and make your investigation more impactful
  • Avoid groupthink: Use features like private mode to allow multiple people to record their observations in the mural without influencing one another
  • Once you’ve gathered all your information, use tools like color-coding and arranging to organize and synthesize your feedback into themes, and make clear next steps

How to create a Fly-on-the-wall observation template

Mural’s intuitive features and infinite canvas make it easy to research, analyze, and align on next steps

The Mural platform makes gathering, synthesizing, and analyzing research faster and easier by giving your team a single resource from start to finish.
Sticky notes & text

Sticky notes & text

Add ideas, action items, and more as a sticky note or text box — then change the colors and cluster to identify patterns and new solutions.

Outline navigation & instructions

Outline navigation & instructions

Structure your mural for easy navigation, then add activity instructions for collaborators.

Easy sharing

Easy sharing

There’s no barriers to collaboration with unlimited workspace members on the Free plan.

Flexible permissions

Flexible permissions

Control access to collaboration features with view-only, edit, and facilitator settings.

Real-time collaboration

Real-time collaboration

Add more productivity and engagement to meetings and calls with features to guide collaboration.

Icons, GIFs, & images

Icons, GIFs, & images

Express complex ideas visually or lead an engaging team-building activity with Noun Project, GIPHY, and Unsplash integrations.

Fly-on-the-wall observation template frequently asked questions

What is fly-on-the-wall research?

What are the benefits of observational research?

What are the types of observation techniques?

LUMA Institute

Template by LUMA Institute


LUMA offers acclaimed in-person training, custom innovation programs, and a unique digital platform (LUMA Workplace), used by innovators in over 70 countries. Leading organizations around the globe rely on the LUMA System of Innovation — a practical, flexible, and scalable approach to Human-Centered Design.