A small rural health service undertook a major needs analysis in 2008 to identify gaps in service delivery and duplication of services. This exercise was intended to inform strategic direction but the result was consumer and community consultation and outcomes that far exceeded everyone's expectations. Organisations often pay lip service to the concept of community participation and consultation and the importance of consumer involvement. Turning this rhetoric into action is challenging and requires dedicated staff, organisational support and momentum for it to occur. The project described resulted in targeted, purposeful action regarding community engagement, and the findings and outcomes are reflective of this. The unexpected findings required an organisational shift, which was embraced by the health service and resulted in collaborative partnerships with consumers and organisations that are proving beneficial to the entire community and outlying areas. Few organisations would demonstrate the willingness to accommodate such change, or undertake a needs analysis that is chiefly community driven.