Catalytic Thinking 103: Catalytic Decision-Making

Catalytic Thinking 103: Catalytic Decision-Making

Our power to create powerful results lies in our power to create favorable cause-and-effect conditions towards our dreams. And the most favorable conditions begin and end with bringing out the best in people versus focusing on stuff, no matter the situation or topic.

The practices that comprise Catalytic Decision-Making are intentionally crafted to create the conditions for the best possible results to emerge in any situation. Those practices will shape the decisions we make, the actions we take, and the results we see. As part of our overall Catalytic Thinking curriculum, this course is all about what it takes to create those conditions in the situations we encounter every day.

Catalytic Decision-Making: Bringing Out the Best in Situations
Unless something is physically impossible, it is possible. That statement has resonated deeply with people since it was published in The Pollyanna Principles in 2009. Rooted in the other realities stated in those principles, that statement of possibility speaks to the reality that being a “Pollyanna” is the only thing that has ever brought humans closer to our potential.

The truth behind those statements lies in one of the most basic rules of physics – the rule of cause and effect. That is, every action causes some effect and therefore, everything we see around us is the result of actions that have been taken before.

What, then, does it take to bring out the best in situations?

Bringing out the best in situations requires that we deeply understand how causality works, and even more deeply understand what it takes to create favorable cause-and-effect conditions for success. Because our power to create change lies in our power to create those favorable conditions.

Catalytic Decision-Making uncovers the critical path from today to the future we want to create. Catalytic Decision-Making is not a “planning process,” although it can be used for planning. It is a way of thinking about everything we seek to accomplish, from developing a website, to creating an amazing birthday experience for our 5 year old; from determining how to approach a family member about an uncomfortable situation, to finding a company’s most effective strategies for creating a better world. Imagine what would be possible if we were more conscious of those decisions, and more conscious of what it takes to create more powerful results!

In that way, practitioners learn to

• Plan for the future in a way that aims at what is possible, instead of reacting to and protecting against the future you do not want.
• Create a path of causality between today’s reality and the future you are creating, with action plans that create a chain reaction toward your desired goal.
• Understand the difference between “creating favorable conditions for success” and “overcoming obstacles,” and discover why one leads to success while the other can lead to inaction and fear.
• Uncover the unconsciously negative framing in everyday conversations, interactions and decisions, substituting language that brings out the best in people while making decisions and getting stuff done together.
• Understand the science that links causality to brain mechanics, allowing you to calm the brain’s fear centers and access the creative parts of your brain – while learning how to help others do the same!
• Pay attention to and understand the full context of what is really going on in any situation, including systems that lead to less-than-optimal results, and use that context to create new systems and ways of being together.
• Step into situations with confidence, understanding how to lead from the middle to change a group’s conversations from “reacting to problems” to “creating the future.”
• Practice new go-to thinking and language that will add confidence to your own decisions, and to the decisions of others.

Building upon the practices you explored in the Introduction to Catalytic Thinking (101) and the Catalytic Listening (102) course, Catalytic Decision Making (103) will provide an overview of the practice, and opportunities to practice each aspect of the practice. During the class, participants will explore the following questions by experiencing them – not as a theoretical exercise, but as a highly practical one.

• What do you want your actions to make possible? Possible for whom? What would 100% success look like?
• What conditions outside your immediate control would lead to that success?
• What would someone need to know, understand, have, believe, be comfortable with, and be assured of for that result to be possible?
• What conditions must be in place for you internally, to be able to influence those external conditions?
• What actions will trip the levers to create those conditions?

Catalytic Decision-Making aims for what is possible, and then eliminates the need to forecast or predict, creating order out of chaos by uncovering the simple cause-and-effect path between today’s reality and the future we want to create. By focusing on what is possible, and then illuminating the favorable conditions that will lead to that success, Catalytic Decision-Making creates agreement while creating a path to the best possible outcome. By making that path explicit, the thinking that creates powerful actions can be replicated and scaled, so that anyone can consistently bring out the best in any situation.

Catalytic Decision-Making avoids the roadblocks created by the current norm in organizational decision-making – Idea-Driven strategy. Often the result of brainstorming, Idea-Driven strategy is the process of generating ideas for directly reacting to an issue, without the benefit of reaching for what is possible and creating a context of causality for accomplishing that ultimate result.

By reacting to today’s reality (and the bigger the issue, the more that reality is reinforced with data about trends and best-guess future scenarios), Idea-Driven strategy is reactive in and of itself. In addition, though, Idea-Driven strategy actually fuels reactivity among others who are invited to respond (react) to those ideas. The result is not only a reactive strategy (failing to bring out the best in the situation), but stressful encounters with others, as both parties in the interaction are beset by the chemicals that surge through our brains when we are in reactive mode (failing to bring out the best in each other).

The Course
The content above is covered in a 3 month course. The first 4 weeks include self-paced readings, viewing videos, and meeting with the course instructors. That is followed by 8 weeks of online classes with your cohort, in 3 hour sessions each week. The following will give you a sense of what to expect.

Catalytic Thinking 101 – Introduction to Catalytic Thinking
An overview of Catalytic Thinking and what does it take to bring out the best in people, including you.

Catalytic Listening 102 – Introduction to Catalytic Listening
Catalytic Listening explores what it takes to brings out the best in people (including you) when they’re dealing with challenging situations. To bring out the best in people when they’re dealing with stuff requires listening deeply, with the dual intention of meeting people where they are and opening the door to their potential to create positive results.

Practice and Perspective in Day-to-Day Life:
The ultimate goal of Catalytic Thinking is that we be more effective catalysts for the potential in situations around and including us. For that to happen, participants will be encouraged to not only apply the skills they learn, but to practice, gaining confidence until those new skills become simply a way of seeing and being.

During the class, participants will explore and practice…

• Where does this practice fit for you? What does it take to keep your practice on the front burner of your life? What will it take to build upon your personality, your life experience, your expertise, your wisdom? What will it take to apply this practice to your work and your life? Where are the points of confluence with how you already see things, and with approaches you are already taking? Where do you wish to begin practicing?
• What questions and practices would help you respond to any situation in a way that brings out the best in the SITUATION?
• In a world that values efficiency over effectiveness, what is the value of taking time to listen deeply to the people we encounter? What practices might we use to incorporate that longer view of time into our work lives? Our family life? Our community?
• Which of our cultural patterns serve to bring out the best in situations? Which are counterproductive to that goal? What practices will help us create new go-tos, to do something different, to get the results we want?
• What practices would help us shift perspectives, to see through a new lens, to consider the potential in people we might have previously discounted or made otherwise counterproductive assumptions about?
• What would workplace practices look like that create and maintain conditions that bring out the best in situations whenever groups of any size are working together? What do healthy and supportive systems look and feel like, and what will take to nurture and create that?

What to Expect
The following is just a taste of what you can expect when you participate in this online learning experience.

• Expect to be participating with people like you – people who believe that reaching for our uniquely human potential to create a healthy, humane world is practical and doable. Expect to have that spirit of possibility not only taken seriously, but nurtured and given practical tools for turning those “Pollyanna” dreams into reality wherever you work, regardless of sector or industry.
• Expect to learn both from the instructors and from your fellow students, and expect to share your own experience, wisdom and ideas, in a highly interactive environment (maximum class size: 6 students). Expect to form a trusting Community of Practice with your classmates that will last far beyond just the weeks of this class.
• Expect to be taught and encouraged by instructors who are putting these approaches into practice successfully in their own lives. Expect them to share their experiences with what has worked well, as well as the places they have experienced difficulty, free of sugar-coating.
• Expect to be stretched and encouraged as you begin stepping into your own potential as a catalyst. Expect to have the class nurture the best in you, walking the talk of the practice of Catalytic Thinking.
• Expect to feel the “aha” of realizing why aspects of your work and life have, to date, been frustrating. And expect to learn approaches that circumvent that frustration altogether – approaches that are naturally and easily cooperative, joyful and filled with possibility for your work, your family, your community and your life overall.
• Expect every aspect of your work to be enhanced – every conversation, every task, every goal… everything. Expect that to extend beyond your work, out into the rest of your life.
• Expect to learn approaches you can put into practice immediately, the second each live classroom session is over. And expect to have practiced those approaches throughout the weeks of the class, to begin getting comfortable with them.
• Expect to be inspired, encouraged, reassured and energized. And expect to laugh and have a lot of fun.

The format of the course will feel familiar to people who have participated in the pre-requisite courses, Catalytic Thinking 101 and Catalytic Listening 102.

• 7-8 weekly sessions of 3 hours each
• Small cohorts – a maximum of 6 participants in each class, with 2 co-instructors per class
• Pre-class reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts
• Classroom instruction and discussion will model the practices, to show what the practices look like in action, and for participants to experience the results themselves.
• Language traps will be pointed out, to find more effective language that fits within each participant’s life and environment. This is not about learning prescribed language; it is about finding words that bring out the best in each participant’s real life.
• Being explicit about WHY these approaches are effective, so that participants understand the thinking and can therefore replicate it (replication of thinking is powerful; replication of doing often not so much).
• Between classes, homework will include practicing in the participant’s real life, then discussion online with their classmates about what they are experiencing. Instructors will guide and coach during this online discussion and exploration.
• One-on-one coaching as needed with the instructors during “office hours” between classes.
• Ongoing cohort support AFTER the class is over, as the participants remain connected online as a cohort.
• Post-class participation in the overall Creating the Future learning community of practitioners.
• Modeling the framework by asking each class, “What would support you in your practice, after the class is over?” (rather than making assumptions about what that might be).

We look forward to walking beside you as you learn to bring out the best in any situation you encounter, catalyzing the potential in every decision you make.