For the first time in my professional career, I have decided to put on an open programme. It is 1-day long, is called Transforming Meetings, and is accredited by Nancy Kline’s Time To Think organisation.
I have become increasingly convinced of Time To Think principles of for meetings of the approaches in this programe. In my roles as Board Chair of a small tech company, and Chair of Governors at a Primary School, we have slowly introduced these principles over recent months, to good effect.
For example, at the start of a recent board meeting, I shared some practical tips on paying magnificent attention to each other. This involves not just cursory attention, where I start raising my hand while someone is speaking so I can get in next, or where I wait for a micro-gap and then deliver a pre-loaded answer. But, rather, it involves looking at eyes of the person who is speaking, genuinely fascinated by what they will say next. And never interrupting. One of my favourite quotations is, “Interruption is an assault on the thinking process” (Nancy Kline.)
As we exhibited an increasing quality of such attention, it increased the quality of our thinking. We knew this because we got through more topics, better, faster. And because when we were interrupted by hotel staff with a breakfast order, our discussions for the ensuing 15 minutes went round in circles, so much so that decided to loop back and address a topic again.
As a board, generating effective thinking is critical to our success. (Hence the picture of the generator at the top!) And time matters. So we were delighted.
But, in my nearly 20 years as a coach, facilitator and leadership consultant, I have never run an open programme. So, why now? One reason is my confidence in the material (above).
Beyond this, in a pilot edition of the programme, I was encouraged by the positive feedback from clients in the business, education and charity sectors:
- “I am not generally a fan of training. This training challenged my objectives of any meeting to aim for maximising the collective thinking and not just progressing the agenda as quickly as possible,” Brian Wilkinson, Head of Network Development, Viva
- “Nick’s Thinking Environment programme really helped my firm’s thinking and makes our meetings more productive. Simple, logical, energetic and in a nice environment,” Victor Chua, Founding Partner, Mansfield Advisors LLP
- “The programme has helped me to lead meetings and listen more effectively, impacting both on my professional and personal life. I have applied the principles and structures to a number of meetings since attending the programme. As a result, our quality of discussion is richer, there is greater balance in who contributes and for how long, and we generate ideas and solutions to problems more efficiently,” Jake Jones, Assistant Headteacher, Wheatley Park Secondary School
- “The training is a revelation,” Andrew Dubock, Communications Manager, Viva