As a Thinking Environment consultant, I’ve been doing a lot of Thinking Partner sessions with fellow practitioners – more than usual as I’m in ‘lock-down.’ As you might expect we’ve been analysing the Covid19 situation in minutiae, each having our own perspectives on what it means for our businesses, our families, ourselves. And thinking about the Thinking Environment: what that means for us and for business in the future.
Like others at first I had a scheduled plan of work that I could do: the ‘boring admin’, reconciling expenses, planning future workshops, learning more about online options, converting my workshops into virtual packages, ‘zoom’ meetings with clients. Naturally I’d planned in some R&R and my daily ‘allocated minimal outing.’
I ventured to the shops and hunted out the eggs, cooking oil, flour as we’d refused to panic buy. Relished the calm of queuing 2 metres apart and minimal numbers in the stores. And then…
From peak to trough
It hit me. The slump. The plan went out of the window. And so, in one of my Thinking sessions I explored ‘the slump’. I came to the conclusion that we’d all been super hyped by the covid coverage. There was an excitement to it all, if excitement is a word that can be used for this crisis. We were being urged to ‘step up’ and ‘fight the fight’. I cannot begin to count how many clichés were used. So we did. I did. I had my plan as to how I was going to survive the lock-down but excitement cannot last and, along with so many of my colleagues, I hit the slump.
A macro pause
But then something remarkable happened. And this is where the Thinking Environment really came into its own. I realised that we’d hit a macro pause. Nancy Kline famously says that our thoughts come in waves and hadn't we been at the crest of a tsunami of a wave? We’d been bowled along, swept by the power of the earthquake that was covid19 and now we’d come ashore. We were in the pause that occurs before the wave retreats.
In that pause we were reconnecting with the world around us. We were talking to neighbours through windows and 2 metres from the doorsteps, putting teddy bears in our windows for the children’s’ teddy bear hunts, dropping notes into the letter boxes of those we hadn’t seen for a while just checking that they were OK.
We were reconnecting with the world around us. We were speaking to relatives on the phone or skype or zoom that we hadn’t talked to in months. We were speaking to our partners, our children, our siblings sharing joys and curses, communicating in real time about real things that mattered.
We were reconnecting with the world around us. We were hearing the birds sing, now uninterrupted by the noise of our technological, machine made world. We were seeing skies that were starkly blue or peppered with real clouds, not vapour trails. We were focusing on the micro – the ant struggling with a speck of crumb found on the carpet, the swirl of grain in the tree trunk, the brickwork of the upper storey of a building as we looked up and out.
We were connecting with the world around us – and in us.
Our internal pause
And so we had our own internal pause. An opportunity to check in with ourselves about what was real for us, for now, for the past and for the future. And we were thinking about what this meant to us as individuals and how we would enter the new world that would be post-covid.
Would we retreat to the old behaviours or take on new ones, or rediscover old ones that had been subsumed by the hectic world in which we had lived? Would we take the new insights about ourselves and use them to positively alter the future?
The new world
And so we come to the time when we will exit ‘lock down’. But for now, in this macro pause, let’s consider what this new world will be.
For myself, a deeper insight into how the Thinking Environment helped me cope with the lock down, allowed me to bring out my deepest thinking and some amazing solutions as a result.
For my family, a reconnecting across age and geography, and my friends an appreciation of how they have morphed into the wider ‘family’ that supports me and mine.
For the community, a more profound thinking into what is community, who is deemed essential for our health and wellbeing in all aspects of that phrase. Not just the health workers but the posties, refuse collectors, the milkmen. Communities have grown through this crisis and with time to think, can become even stronger.
For the business world a move perhaps from the capitalism that has shown too ugly a face when the world was screaming for collaboration and consideration of the wider social good. I have noted those who have not - and I suspect the community as a whole have too.
An appreciation of those who recognise the pendulum shift in action - I’ve certainly been keeping note of those companies (and other organisations) who have shown their workforce, their suppliers, their customers and their communities both local and global, compassion and consideration.
Finally, now that employers have had to do business differently, and think differently, and think generatively, and think with a cognitive diversity that up until now has been alien to them, a belief that they can continue that journey leaving behind the detritus of what was harmful (the Bridges model writ large!).
And now that they recognise the power of allowing their people to think beyond what they thought was possible, now surely we will come into the Age of the Thinking Environment.
Laura Murphy blogs about things that interest her. They might not interest you but read them anyway. It might even change your mind.