People can think for themselves

People can think deeply for themselves and if a Thinking Space is created then thinking can and will emerge. The facilitator is the catalyst. In this space, the quality of the questions and the quality of listening are paramount.

Listening values the thinking and the thinking improves, and as the quality of thinking improves so does the quality of decision making and planned action.

  • The thinker thinking for themselves
  • The facilitator acts as a custodian, taking care of the thinking through attention, appreciation and ease
  • The use of a specific framework for inquiry, including the Appreciative Inquiry 4D model and patterns of questions based on the work of Nancy Kline

The process has its roots in living systems theory, positive strengths-based change, appreciative inquiry and conversational based change. The process creates the space to have new, different thinking, different conversations, different decisions and actions, and therefore a different future.

The process is facilitated by taking people through layers of inquiry and using specific patterns of questions that encourage thinking that is void of blame, history and fear. Instead, the layers of inquiry illuminate personal responsibility, purpose and meaning, aspirations and desires, and real actions and commitments towards transformation.

Deep and attentive listening changes things

We are not used to being listened to without interruption. Thinking Space functions inside a membrane of Rules of Engagement, which are:

  • Confirming that the role of the thinking partner is to help others to do their best thinking
  • Each person will have the opportunity to speak without being interrupted
  • We pay attention to each contribution and value it as much as we value our own
  • Agreeing how others will let you know that one wave of thinking is complete, ensuring you remain silent when they are still thinking
  • Explaining you may ask the person a further question or you may not
  • Surfacing assumptions will be part of the process
  • Either way, the only desire is to help others to discover their best thinking
  • Once everyone has had an opportunity to share their thinking, open the space to a conversation while reflecting on all of the thinking and what we would like to do next, as well as maintaining the rule of no interrupting
  • Everyone will have a chance to say or ask whatever they need/want to

Thinking Space: the central thinking

Thinking Space is a portfolio of bespoke development interventions for individuals, teams and communities.

This portfolio of interventions has the purpose of:

  • Creating space that is safe for people to connect with their own thinking
  • Surfacing connectedness based on listening, genuineness and not knowing
  • Assuming that a positive team and personal relationships are critical to business success
  • Giving structure to the emotional dimension of the work and the workplace
  • Exploring and making decisions around assumptions
  • Surfacing doubts and commitments, and moving the thinking, decisions and action forward
  • Encouraging directness, authenticity and personal accountability
  • Creating the thinking that leads to real development/change for individuals, teams and the purpose of the organisation or community


Thinking Space was inspired by:

  • More Time to Think: Nancy Kline
  • Thinking Environment Training with Nancy and subsequent dialogue and feedback
  • Appreciative Inquiry: David Cooperrider
  • A desire to create a programme of development that would really Illuminate what we mean by listening with attention, grace and ease