Summer ideas for a Thinking Environment


Even though some people may not get away in July and August, many will, and this picture holds so much of what a good holiday might bring… peace, beauty, perspective – and good wine!

Before you go I’d like to pick up on the theme of listening, a perennial favourite, by offering you two very different  videos.  First and briefest is the ‘Power of Why’ creator Simon Sinek with a heartfelt plea to leaders to ‘practice being the last to speak’ which is both pertinent and inspiring (despite the cheesy music, why do they do that?!).

And then there is the pure joy of watching Indian village children getting to grips with the internet with no training whatsoever –just by listening and watching. This is astonishing, humbling and uplifting in equal measure, with vital messages about education and learning.

Then a little light reading.  Nancy Kline has been developing some fascinating ‘Fine Points’ about her understanding of the Thinking Environment principles, available here

And if that inspires you to further thought about developing your own interest by taking a course with me, that’s always welcome, and always available here, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

5 Books to spark new thinking

Each of these offers insight and fresh thinking about subjects that really matter to me. How we think, why we feel the way we do, how to live with joy and honesty – nothing too important!

The World Beyond your Head; how to flourish in an Age of Distraction

Matthew Crawford

In particular: that our capacity to give attention to externals is being consistently monetised for others’ profit, that we need to reclaim our right to undisturbed surroundings (‘an attentional commons‘); that devoting time and concentration to a skill like baking, motorbiking, woodworking, learning a language/ the ukelele creates ‘an ecology of attention‘ that’s hugely beneficial.  We know this!!

The Fear-Free Organisation. Vital Insights from Neuroscience to Transform your Business Culture

Paul Brown/ Joan Kingsley/ Sue Paterson

Vital insights: a theory of Emotions that’s easy to understand and explain;  the   neuroscientific explanation of how it is that we feel (in sensory terms) before we think (in cognitive terms) so Descartes was wrong, it’s ‘I feel, and then I think I am’, not ‘I think, therefore I am’.  How we need to feel limbically ‘safe’ in order to work well (hence the ‘fear-free’ organisation).

The Goddaughter Letters by  Nancy Kline

Just read this.  It’s like a manual for living a life with truth, joy  and energy.  Derived from a lifetime of challenging thinking about what really matters.  Love. Intelligence. Clarity.  Freedom. Equality.  A steely intellect supports a light-touch delivery – don’t be fooled, this is a radical manifesto  for independent thinking.

Remarkable Courage by  Deb Cheslow

I quote this often because it offers such a comprehensive practical framework for building anything – a new business, a relationship, a way of living.  Four key principles: High standards, Discipline, Accountability and Systems.  Thinking about systems alone is a gamechanger – whether it’s the quality of your accounting system, or the value of your personal relationships, pretty much everything that surrounds us belongs in one kind of system or another.  How good are yours?

Reading in Progress: You are the Placebo: Making your mind matter  

Dr Joe Dispenza

I’m interested in this because it seems to be a rigorous examination of the science that explains/ links how the mind and body interract, to the benefit or detriment  of both.  The same thoughts drive the same behaviours which create the same brain chemistry which creates the same results… Becoming aware of this principle invites the question ‘How can we act to change the chemistry?’ and offers the exciting possibility of much greater brain plasticity than hitherto has seemed likely.  Maybe it’s not ‘in the genes’ after all?

Tweet, post or email me your thoughts about these – and any suggestions of your own for books that spark great thinking.



Social housing and a sense of purpose

Spending a morning at the National Housing Federation’s annual Communications Conference yesterday was really inspiring .   This was a major conference for people working (very hard) in the support and supply of social housing across the UK.  These are the people who every day are facing the realities of a shortage of housing stock, and the inevitable consequences that provokes.  I had expected to find a good deal of criticism – of government, economic conditions, the ‘austerity measures’ that have led to the hated bedroom tax and to the challenges of Universal Credit.  And perhaps a certain degree of world-weariness. Read More

Having the next laugh?

Over the last two days I’ve had the great pleasure of leading a ‘Time to Think’ Facilitator Course.  This means spending many hours with a small group of people linked by our interest in understanding more about how we think, noticing what it is that produces our most insightful and intelligent thinking, and then going on to replicate those conditions deliberately to promote great thinking.  Which often includes having a good laugh. Read More

What is your website for?

Those who have created/ designed/ agonized over your own websites will know this is a big day for Think It Through and for me.  I’ve just launched a new website.  Welcome!

Commissioning a new website design is a big step, not only because it means finding the right person to do it (thank you Nicky of Laurel Creative) and spending some money (very reasonable indeed); it also means returning to that vital question, what is this website for? Read More

Attention everyone…

Do you know that the average length of time you get to explain something important/ interesting/new is 8 seconds?  And that if you are really lucky you might get up to 20 seconds?  That’s all of 20 seconds in which to work out what you need to say before your listener jumps in with what they think. Read More