About 12boxes Ltd

We are a specialist coaching and training company working with management and specialist consultancies who want to grow by enabling more consultants to hold profitable business development conversations with clients.

We offer distance coaching and online training to individuals and groups globally with our hybrid programme, ‘Client Engagement Mastery’. We also offer bespoke training courses and workshops throughout the UK and the EU single market.

We contribute to our client’s profitability by increasing the effectiveness of their business development conversations with clients, eliminating wasted time and effort on unsuccessful proposals, and shortening the time from initial conversation to order.

Our programmes are based on over 40 years’ experience of delivering training programmes and online coaching to management and specialist consultants ranging from sole practitioners to the largest global firms.

Our People


Malcolm Sleath is the inventor and developer of the 12boxes system.

He has been working with consultants, advisers and technology specialists for over forty years.

Based in London UK, Malcolm holds UK and Irish passports.

Takuya Shimada is the Client Relationship Director of 12boxes.

Prior to his current role, he developed and produced industry-leading business conferences, covering sectors such as automotive, wireless communications, renewable energy, and pharmaceuticals, and created strategic relationships between leading enterprises in the USA, Europe and Japan.

Takuya has a passion for mathematics and the arts. His multifaceted career included a stint in the performing arts, and he holds a BA in Economics from Sophia University, Tokyo, and a master’s degree of Arts in Dance from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London.

Sectors and clients

Current and previous clients include specialists in: accountancy, actuarial, banking, education, electrical and mechanical engineering, electronics, film and television production, food manufacture, hospitality, human resources and training, information systems and technology, instrument design, intellectual property, law, management and industrial consultancy, physics, printing, product design, telecommunications.

Partial list of current and previous clients: Accenture, American Express Bank, Bank of New York, BDO Binder Hamlyn, British Telecommunications plc, Cambridge Consultants, Diverse Limited, Electrical Contractors’ Association, Environment Agency, Ingersoll Engineers, IPC Magazines, National Physical Laboratory, NNC, Oxford Instruments, PKF, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Royal Bank of Scotland, Salford University, South West Water, VG Instrument Group.

About 12boxes
What it is and how it works

12boxes is a method for thinking about, planning and executing conversations that influence individuals, groups and organisations to embrace change.

A principal use case is where a consultant needs to sell a project to achieve a transformation.

Value before solutions

A unique feature of 12boxes is that it enables consultants to establish value in the mind of the client before they need to propose a solution, let alone detail its nature and the mechanics and costs of implementation.

The effect is that the client is primed to regard the solution as desirable in advance because they have constructed their own value proposition in the course of the conversation.

How and why it works

12boxes is effective because it is based on a deep structure which describes how clients see situations, the problems associated with them, and the available solutions.

It works like this. In advance of a client conversation, a consultant will think through how they might deliver value in terms of potential change and outcomes.

Their next step is to estimate the kind of awareness that the client is likely to have of their situation, the problems associated with it, and the potential for change. The consultant is prompted to think this through by a series of questions, each of which is associated with an element of the 12boxes framework.

The consultant’s answers to the questions become a hypothesis which they will test in conversation with the client.

Client centred with no loss of focus

This testing approach means that the conversation is naturally client centred and avoids the common problem of how to balance building a relationship with pursuing an agenda to change a client’s view.
Planning the conversation is relatively straightforward because the questions are already familiar to the consultant from the development of their hypothesis.

The client’s answers will either confirm the consultant’s hypothesis or enable them to modify it in real time.

The consultant will see getting the client to progressively explore and express each level of awareness as micro-objectives to be achieved during the conversation. It doesn’t matter if the client raises issues out of the planned order, because the underlying structure enables the consultant to keep track of what is happening and to decide where to go next.

Key points

Key points in the conversation occur when the client acknowledges the consequences of leaving problems unaddressed, expresses the desire for change, and agrees a specification for a resolution with the consultant.

This establishes a platform for the consultant to explore the value of a successful resolution with the client, without needing to spell out the available solutions. Indeed, the consultant might well want to hold their fire on talking through solutions until they understand the scope of the value that could be achieved.

This is particularly true where the consultant may need to consult colleagues before making a proposal.

Removing uncertainty

In proposing a solution and discussing implementation, the consultant might need to refine the value proposition. But they will do this secure in the knowledge that the broad value case has already been established and they don’t need to justify it.

Instead, they can focus on negotiating ways in which the client can be assured that the proposed solutions will have the desired effects, and that they can be delivered in a way which is compatible with the client’s purchasing criteria.

This renders the client’s purchasing process as transparent as possible and removes much of the uncertainty which often characterises consulting sales.