Thinking Whole: The How To

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7 and 3 are not suggestions.

You need neither more nor less in respective chunks. The exercise is all about getting to understand the problem well enough to be brief, then articulating that thinking (in brief), and finally, describing when and how that gets converted from thinking to doing (very briefly).

Here’s how you use these visuals in your actual Thinking Whole Session. Set up the room with two flip charts at the front. Mark one “Working Form” and mark the other “Parking Lot.” Why the “parking lot?” Thinking Whole is not about prioritization. It’s not about argumentation. It is about whether each idea is articulated well enough so that it…

  1. makes sense on its own.
  2. contributes, works with, or complements the other ideas.
  3. helps to complete the whole of the chunk we’re working on, along with the ultimate solution.

Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living” – then he drank the poison. As far as we’re concerned: No unexamined idea scores a slot on the flipchart! Don’t put every idea in the parking lot, just the ones that “feel” significant but aren’t well enough articulated to move to the working form, just yet.

Revisit the parking lot as often as desirable. Anyone might, at any time, either see a better way of articulating the parking lot ideas or perceive how they connect to what’s on the working form. To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Trust the Form.” (There are examples of each form in the upcoming section entitled “Workbook.”)

As each Thinking Whole chunk is worked and completed, put it up on the wall next to its predecessor, leaving room for its successor, in order, and in context. Being able to see all the completed chunk forms next to their complementary counterparts will serve to tease out their connections.

Those connections usually bring themselves out, if they get enough serious attention. Keep completed chunk forms where they are always visible to everyone in the room during the session. This will help the team to stay focused but, more importantly, it will lead to one or more moments of passively precipitated perception. We humans have been gifted with visual and aural learning and perception styles. Some of us feel we are either/or one style or the other. The truth is that our best thinking happens when we can engage both.

Simply put, The Form, is the wireframe around we can do exactly that – and more. The Focus Everybody we know has been in at least one (dozen, hundred, million?) team meeting(s) where the following scenario applied: The group makes progress and comes to a decisive moment or insight. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief and enjoys a momentary sense of accomplishment. They someone says something like “shouldn’t we also…? or “what about…?” In that moment of black magic moment, everything that was accomplished falls apart.

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