Courageous alternatives to be agile and adaptable in a VUCA world
Pivoting with ease and agility in the "new normal"
In 2020, a key buzzword emerged: “pivoting”. With the "second wave", the reality that Covid-19 was going to be with us well into 2021 dawned on us.
Now, we face the challenge of invigorating our businesses in the face of an ongoing global pandemic. The VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) about which we had been speaking for some time became a whole lot more VUCA.
However, human beings are resilient and creative, able to dig deep to access the courage, grit and determination needed to face what life is presenting to us.
We are now delighted to offer the Business Booster session.
These sessions are designed as an opportunity to gather on-line in a safe space, in small groups, and use The Thinking Environment to generate ideas to boost our businesses.
Thinking Pairs, Rounds, Dialogue and The Time to Think Council Process are all ideal ways for us to hone our skill, whilst supporting and inspiring each other to create savvy business solutions in a co-created, supportive and collaborative thinking environment.
An alternative approach to professional Supervision
During the course of 2020 I came to discover, in new ways, how much I love something that I had only ever done, either for students of my courses in their practicum period, or otherwise in a somewhat ad hoc fashion.
Commonly, it is called supervision, but I have never liked that word. I am concerned by the potential insinuation of inequality that word could imply. Despite not having yet distinguished a better way of describing it, nevertheless, I can honestly say that apart from my teaching of Thinking Environment programmes, and being a Thinking Partner, this role – which I am now thinking of as one of being a companion in the exploration of expertise – has turned into something that I derive enormous pleasure and fulfillment from.
So, I set my mind to thinking about what to call this – and came up with exploring expertise. I like the idea that the commitment is one of continuing to learn together, from each other’s experience, and – of course – to co-create a Thinking Environment in the relationship so that we can discover more and more about what it takes to embody being an expert-explorer of this question:
“What does it take to create the conditions under which people can do the best possible job of thinking well, for themselves, being themselves fully?”
One of the challenges we face as Thinking Environment practitioners is that our work is a continual process of swimming upstream. We are committed to replacing the default conditions in which the world primarily operates, with the exact opposite, namely the Ten Components of a Thinking Environment.
In order to keep ourselves resourced and self-expressed in this courageous endeavour, I believe that we owe it to ourselves to regularly create opportunities in which we are not only creating thinking environments for others, but in which we are also having a thinking environment created for us. A place in which we can face what we need to face about what it takes to dance joyfully on the knife edge of expertise and exploration at the same time.
I am, therefore, delighted to invite you to consider the idea that a regular session with me could be a worthwhile investment in your practice of using the Thinking Environment as a coach, a facilitator or a teacher.
THE LANDING PLACE
I have been hearing a lot of narrative that suggests to me that many people are struggling to access inspiration, with renewed energy, afloat on intentions buoyed by some time off.
Some people are finding it hard to cultivate courage in the face of "second waves", scary statistics, and looming loss. We feel we are continuing to face “more of the same”, rather than anything new.
The truth is, though, that “new” and “more of the same” are constructs, created by how we choose to language our experience. The truth is there are moments upon moments inside of which a myriad complexity of events are continuously occurring. How we view those moments, and what we choose to do with them will be driven by the assumptions we are making.
Many years ago, when I studied the Existentialists, I summarized my learning in this way:
We are doomed to be free! The only choice we do not have is to have no choice.
As Mary Oliver asked in The Summer Day:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
Now that is a question that warrants some thinking about, doesn’t it?
And no matter whether you are feeling buoyed or despondent, renewed or depleted, refreshed or weary, there is a choice each one of us can choose to access for our one wild and precious life. We can choose to think about the assumptions that are driving our feeling, our doing, our being, and in so doing create, each of us in our own unique way, our response to that question.
But thinking, and creating, is messy. It is risky. It takes courage.
We all need somewhere safe.
Somewhere where we can feel.
Somewhere where we can be ourselves fully, free of the fear of judgement or censure.
I call this The Landing Place.
A time to think, and feel, and be.
A time to generate afresh what you want, and what you need and what you can do to produce that for yourself.
In The Landing Place I promise you that:
You will be listened to without interruption
You will be given time, free from the inherent rush and urgency that surrounds you.
You will be able to explore deeply what you want to think about
You will be able to release feelings if you need to
You will be able to construct outcomes you want to pursue
You will be able to remove untrue limiting assumptions that block your pathway to your outcome
You will be able to generate new ideas
You will be able to feel liberated and re-energised.
You will be able to, if you want to, draw on my 32 years of experience in supporting people to unfold their potential
You will come home to yourself, you will come in, to land.
Given the profound gift of all that you give, consider offering yourself the gift of receiving back, by giving yourself time to think, and feel and be, in an environment just for you.
Effective online facilitation of meetings using the Thinking Environment
“The ability to create an environment that strengthens and deepens our competence with connecting and engaging will be a distinguishing feature of gatherings that take place in a virtual setting.”
It's an oxymoron or at the very least a paradoxical.
I have spent so many full days online recently, teaching people how to access the profound levels of human connectivity that can be achieved when we co-create thinking environments with each other.
Gallery or speaker view? Gallery means we can see everyone (well, depending on the number of people on the call, and depending on whether everyone’s cameras are on), so we can recreate to some extent the feeling of being part of the group or team. It’s actually only “some” extent, it’s limited, because we still only have two dimensional, heads and shoulders versions of each other, and when we look into each other’s eyes – to indicate our attention – to the person supposedly receiving our attention we look like we staring into the bottom corner of our screens – or somewhere else, other than at them.
Speaker view is better, but then we lose contact with the whole group.
Add to this conundrum the fact that people don’t have the bandwidth or data to keep their cameras on, and – additionally – we are speaking into the void created by muting ourselves because for each of us we have multiple distractions going on in our individual environments, and the challenges to connection and communication increase exponentially.
We’re missing so very many of the things that we need in order to connect properly.
However, in the face of all that we are facing, there is a broad consensus that The Thinking Environment™ makes a significant, palpable difference to the quality of engagement, despite all of these challenges and constraints.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, and the resulting pandemic, we’ve had so many of our assumptions challenged. People actually can be trusted to stay at home, balance all of the complex demands of their lives – now including home schooling children in the mix – and still get their work done and deliver on their commitments.
We don’t all have to be in the same building to get the job done.
Now, as the pandemic progresses to second and third waves, and the uncertainty of the future continues to dominate our choices and decisions, the question as to how long we will have to continue to run our meetings virtually remains a significant one.
Undoubtedly many innovations around virtual meeting culture and practices will have emerged. But if my recent experiences are anything to go by, we are all putting up with, and working around, many compromises. And we are exhausted by the effort involved in doing so.
We have learned to tolerate that the images of our colleagues do not remain constant and pronounced, that the sound of our voices do not remain audible and clear, and we have learned to put up with, be patient with and work around the fact that the environments in which we each sit are not free from multiple other distractions.
Some things literally cannot take place on-line, in the way that they do if we walk into the same room as each other. A myriad of signs, manifestations, expressions, indications and evidence that we, relational human beings that we are, are picking up on subconsciously, become tenuous in the virtual space.
And so, as this “new normal” stretches out ahead of us, the ability to be able to create an environment that strengthens and deepens our competence with connecting and engaging virtually will be a distinguishing feature of any gatherings that take place in a virtual setting.
For more than 35 years, the work of the Thinking Environment™ has been exploring the answer to the question: what are the conditions that will enable people to do their finest, independent thinking?
What is a Thinking Environment?
A Thinking Environment is the set of conditions under which people can think for themselves with rigour, imagination, courage, and grace.
After years of research and observation, Nancy Kline - the founder of the Thinking Environment methodology and President of Time To Think Inc - together with her associates at Time to Think Inc, recognised that people generate their best thinking if the people around them behave in 10 specific ways.
These 10 behaviours have become known as ‘The Ten Components of a Thinking Environment'.
Each of the components is valuable individually, but it is the system of all Ten Components working simultaneously that gives this process its transformative impact.