Guest Blog: Caroline Morris on The Thinking Environment

Our guest blogger Caroline Morris is a Data geek turned Leadership Coach who founded Wide Eyed Group.  Having spent 20 years building databases, analyzing customer behaviour and leading teams of data scientists, programmers and analysts, she turned her love of “helping people to be the best they can be” into her new career, coaching business leaders and their teams. Caroline ran two Thinking Environment sessions with a lucky group of women from WTHub and has written about it for us. If you want to know more about joining one of Caroline’s workshops after reading this then do get in touch:

The Power of Thinking

It has been a wonderful experience working with some of you and sharing the Thinking Environment.  I am passionate about the power of Nancy’ Kline’s Time to Think on our ability to think and the impact it can have of on our interactions both personally and professionally.   The Thinking Environment is premised on the “The quality of our attention determines other people’s quality of thinking”.

How often do you get the chance to speak out loud without fear of interruption?

We spend a lot of time competing for air time, in a competitive dialogue trying to get our point across.  The Thinking Environment allows you the space and time to think without the fear of being interrupted.  It gives practical approaches and techniques to allow teams and groups to work more effectively together.  And I believe allows internal and external thinkers alike the opportunity to express themselves.  As one of the group shared:

“I think I will use thinking environment in my professional and personal life by listening more, and also remember to take my turn to be listened to.”

Our workshop took place over two days in May and July.  The first session we had in the board room, at first seemed like a great space very open and good views!  One of the key tenets of the Thinking Environment is the power of the Place.  Tess’s great feedback on how the Tree room was so much more informal and led to a more relaxed session was a brilliant reflection.

Time and space to think

The process gives us time and space to think, rather than having thoughts going around in our head.  I have always been amazed when coaching people how when given the attention and time they can often solve their own problems and issues.  Still, it is often an alien concept and I have become used to people not feeling comfortable with the opportunity to speaking without interruption, this feedback from a member of the group summed it up brilliantly:

“I enjoyed hearing people say, “I don’t really have much to say” and then speak for 5-10 minutes without a problem, it shows that they have so much more inside them (ideas, words, thoughts) than they have realised.”

When taken in to the workplace the Thinking Environment can be used in so many situations.  As a group, we posed ourselves the question: How could the Thinking Environment be used to solve problems?  I loved that one pair came at it from the perspective of trying to find a problem it couldn’t overcome and concluded it could be used in just about every situation.    The outcome was summed up by this wonderful reflection:

“On a professional setting, I think I could use the thinking environment as part of my web design workshops, a stage in which I involve my clients in the process of creating mockups of their websites. This will help communication in a respectful way, with no interruptions and everyone will have the opportunity to contribute (which aligns with the way I like to work).”

For further reading I recommend Nancy Kline’s More Time to Think; it was the book that got me on the road to my new career!

Caroline Morri