Thinking Whole: The How To

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Exercise Three Collective Native Intelligence Ice Breaker

The Guide: No matter how many people are in the room, this exercise is critical in its entirety. No matter how long it takes. It matters. We’re going to go around the room, left to right. Please tell us three things about yourself.

  1. Name and job title
  2. Something about your family.
  3. Most importantly, what do you do for fun?

I’ll go first (to model the responses)? Go around the room and make sure everyone answers all three questions. If somebody says “I love going to the movies.” Ask them: “What kind of movies?” or “Best movie you’ve ever seen?”

Why? Personal follow-up questions are very important. They will be demonstrating to the team that you, along with everyone else, is open to sharing.

As the guide, you need to be taking note of what people do for fun (either in memory or literally in notes). Why?

  1. a) Because it gives you, and the rest of the room, a new insight into people they have worked with for years, in many cases. It’s a wonderful validation of who they are.
  2. b) Every “fun” activity thinking cap comes with a perspective that is different from that of the same person’s “work thinking cap.” They are not only not incompatible; they can also be incredibly synergistic.
  3. c) These insights can be brought to the general discussion as they might be warranted or needed.

If, for example, somebody says they love to sail, then you might at some point tie in the navigational skills needed for sailing to the issues the team is addressing. Every time something like this happens, the team tightens in intimacy and enlarges in scope of thinking. This is a very good thing.

Exercise Four We are ready to start working on the list of 7 Significant Facts

The Guide: Thanks for sharing. Let’s go to work. We’re going to make a list of what should end up with the seven significant facts around which we will be working.

First of all, we’re going to end up with no more than seven, and no less, than seven. No more than seven… because it’s a fact that people can’t get their arms around any more than seven ideas. So, what’s the point of going higher.

Besides, it’s that much more difficult to get to conclusions if we try to think of too many things at the same time. It’s also true that the more ideas you throw up on the board, the less energy each one can tap. Fewer ideas, the more power each one has. Why no fewer than seven?

Because, having fewer than seven ideas means we haven’t really considered this in its entirety. Besides, if somebody questioned you about a conclusion, and you had seven facts to back it up; you’re pretty much guaranteed to win any argument with anybody having fewer.

Now, what’s a significant fact? Well, nothing we might describe as “table stakes,” or “the usual suspects” would qualify. We’re looking for ideas with a lot of energy; something more visceral than cerebral. Use your intuition to feel that energy.

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