Catalytic Thinking 101: Survey Course - Bringing Out the Best in Everyone and Everything

Creating the Future's immersion curriculum has one goal. That goal is simple, yet so powerful, it can change everything:  To provide you with the knowledge, the skills, and the day-to-day practices to help you bring out the best in yourself, your organization, your community and our world. The first course in that curriculum creates the foundation for everything that follows.

Overview: Catalytic Thinking 101
This introductory class is an 
introduction to the "why" behind the practice of Catalytic Thinking (described in detail here), with tons of opportunity to practice and experience all three core practice areas of that framwork.

  • Overview and discussion of the science and theory undergirding the practices
  • Introduction to key practice areas, to begin putting Catalytic Thinking into practice immediately, after just the first session.

The format is rooted in a cohort of 6 participants plus 2 instructors, in a “live” online environment. In the following sections, you will find...
   • Context: Change the Questions, Change the World!
   • Course Content: Knowledge, Skills and Practice
   • Who is this Class for? Pre-requisites
   • What You Can Expect: Including Course Format
   • How to Register 

Change the Questions, Change the World!
The core of this class is rooted in Creating the Future’s “Theory of Everything,” which is summed up by the phrase: Change the Questions, Change the World!

That is because creating a humane, healthy world is not a matter of finding the next innovative action; it is a matter of rethinking the assumptions that go into those actions.

If we want a world that celebrates the power and collective resource that we, as a planet, all share (vs. assumptions of scarcity); a world where we bring out the best in each other (vs. suspect and compete with each other) and aim for what is possible (vs. react to what’s wrong) – those assumptions must be built into our actions.

Assumptions are the questions we are answering, that we didn’t even realize we are asking. At the heart of our decision-making and planning and everything else we do in our lives are questions. What should we do? Who should we engage with? How will we make it happen? Is there enough? And hundreds more lined up behind those.

Change the questions, and we will root our decisions and actions in Collective Enoughness – the reality that together, we have everything we need, and that it is only alone that we face scarcity.

Change the questions, and we will aim our plans and decisions at creating the future we want, vs. reacting or trying to prevent or plan for what we do NOT want.

Change the questions, and we will bring out the best in ourselves, each other, our organizations and businesses, our communities and our world.

Catalytic Thinking 101
Course Content

Catalytic Thinking is a set of practices for bringing out the best in people and situations. Following the 3 core tenets of that framework, there are three core practice areas this course will review.

1) People: Catalytic Listening practices of asking and listening, to bring out the best in people 
2) Situations: Catalytic Decision-making practices, to bring out the best in every situation (and the people in it!)
3) Actions: Taking mindful action to implement those decisions in the spirit of Collective Enoughness, to bring out the best in everyone.

In this introductory course, you will gain knowledge, skills, and perspectives in all 3 practice areas, to help you understand what leads to people being at their best (including you!). The class will ground you in the theory and science behind these approaches. The class also provides ample time to explore, discuss and especially to practice various aspects of Catalytic Thinking, to begin using these new skills immediately.

The key objective for this course is that participants broaden their understanding of the theory and science at the heart of Catalytic Thinking, to clearly see why these practices consistently bring out the best in people and situations. 

To that end, participants will discuss, explore and practice linking those theoretical and scientific underpinnings to the practical day-to-day of their own life experiences. Because the most effective way to broaden understanding is to experience things firsthand!

  • What is really happening when people are at their best? What kind of questions bring out the best in others? What are we listening for in their answers, and what do we do with what we hear? (And why do people ask for advice, then not take it, or even get angry when we give it?)
  • What creates favorable results for any project, program or initiative? How does the scientific principle of cause-and-effect apply to creating favorable results and effective decisions? What does it take to create both effectiveness and efficiency? 
  • Are resources scarce or is there enough? What kinds of resources does "enoughness" apply to? Which resources are abundant vs. scarce? And what does that look like in day-to-day life?

Participants spend most of their in-class and between-class time actively discussing and practicing new skills and approaches. That is the only way to turn “learning” into “doing,” so that it eventually becomes a practice – a way of being.

That practice will include experimenting with various aspects of Catalytic Listening, Catalytic Decision-making, and Collective Enoughness. Participants will consider these and many other questions:

  • What does it look and feel like to use questions to change conditions and situations? Which questions bring out the potential in ourselves and others? (And which questions keep people in fear and scarcity?)
  • What does it look like in practice to lead from the middle? How does one do that?
  • What approaches help new groups coalesce quickly and seemingly effortlessly? What is really going on when group dynamics feel effortless? What might that look like in practice in your workplace? In your family? As you bring together different groups to benefit your work? 
  • What is at the heart of a successful collaboration? What does it take to create that synergy and alignment?
  • What would it take to introduce more people-centered practices into workplaces that disparage such approaches as “touchy feely” and/or otherwise not applicable?
  • What does it take to create more effective and meaningful communications with the people you encounter every day?

Practice and Perspective in Day-to-Day Life:
The ultimate goal of our entire Catalytic Thinking curriculum is that people become more effective catalysts for the potential in the people around them, including themselves. Participants are therefore encouraged to practice those skills, gaining confidence until those new skills become simply a way of seeing and being.

That is because being a catalyst is as much about how we be as it is about what we do.

Through practice with this intentional framework, new approaches will become first what you repeatedly do, and eventually simply the way you be in your day-to-day.

During the class, participants will explore and practice…

  • Where does this practice fit for you? 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 would workplace practices look like in your own workplace, if they were creating and maintaining conditions for people to be at their best? What would it take for your workplace to be that?

Who is this Class for?
This class is for people who believe that we humans have the potential to create what is possible vs. simply reacting to problems. It is for people who want to learn how to be the future they want to see in the world. 

If you have a strong desire to create favorable conditions for people to step into their potential (including you)…

If you are seeking practical approaches that are cooperative and filled with possibility – that will help you model the values you want to see in your community and your world

If you long to create sweeping systems change at your organization or company and beyond, to create conditions where people thrive (even if you don’t feel like you have the authority to do so)…

If you have experienced some success as a catalyst and want to make your successes more consistent

If you are curious to find ways to make your work life and your personal life more engaging and just more fun

If you would like to identify and move beyond assumptions and beliefs that have kept you from accomplishing more

Or if you have been called a Pollyanna, a dreamer, a visionary, and have wondered,“But isn’t that a good thing?”

… then this class is for you.

The pre-requisites for this class are simple. They are the desires and beliefs noted in the section before this one. If that list sounds like you, that’s all you’ll need. If you are uncertain if that is you, let us know and we’ll arrange a phone conversation to help you explore further.

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: 8 students). Expect to form a trusting Community of Practice with your classmates, that will last far beyond just the few months 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 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 months 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.

But don’t just take our word for it. In October of 2014, three Creating the Future fellows gathered in an online conversation, to share their experience before, during and after what was then our 5-day Immersion Course (the course to which this online curriculum is the successor). Because this current course was built upon the content in that prior course, we know you will get a lot out of listening to what Justin, Rebecca and Lisa had to say about their experience.

The content above is covered in a 3 month course. The first 6 weeks include self-paced readings, viewing videos, and meeting with the course instructors. That is followed by 7 weeks of online classes with your cohort, in 3 hour sessions each week. The following will give you a sense of what to expect.

  • Class duration: 3 months
  • Small cohorts: Maximum of 6 participants in each class, with 2 instructors per class
  • Reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts: Self-paced during the first 6 weeks of the course, and between class sessions as homework
  • Group class time of live 3-hour online sessions, every week for 7 weeks
  • Classroom instruction and discussion models the practices, to show what the practices look like in action, and for participants to experience the results themselves.
  • Between classes, homework includes practicing in the participant’s real life,  sharing what they are experiencing with their classmates via a Facebook group discussion format. Instructors guide and coach during this online discussion and exploration.
  • One-on-one coaching as needed with the instructors 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).

Week by Week Breakdown
The self-paced first six weeks of the course includes reading / viewing videos, to provide an overview of the science and theory of Catalytic Thinking. From there, the following topics will be explored during each week of the course.

Week 1: Bringing out the best in people by bringing the whole person into the room
Week 2: Overview of Catalytic Thinking: discussion of the content in the reading and videos
Week 3: Catalytic Listening: discussion, demonstration and practice
Week 4: Catalytic Decision-making: discussion, demonstration and practice
Week 5: Collective Enoughness as a basis for Action: discussion, demonstration and practice
Week 6: Practicing the practices, getting comfortable with new go-to questions
Week 7: Review and Reflection: Pulling back the curtain to see Catalytic Thinking at the core of every aspect of the course itself.

Homework between sessions will focus on practice - trying on various aspects of what was discussed during class the prior week. Beginning with Week 2, every session will begin with discussion of what the participants learned and noticed as they applied these new approaches to their lives.

Catalytic Thinking 101: Come Join Us!
For scheduling, logistics and tuition information, click here.

Our next cohort will be in early 2019. To be notified about scheduling for future sessions, please click here. We look forward to being with you in this exciting learning environment!