At our November 14th Integrity Team meeting, we began reflecting on the responses we’ve received so far from our engagement efforts. If you want to watch that meeting in full, you can do so here.
We are deeply grateful to Jackie Bradley for documenting the questions and responses during this conversation.
Some background before diving in to summarize that meeting.
The 10 year time clock we put on Creating the Future’s mission has been very important to us. At the end of the 10 years, we want to take a look around, see what we’ve done, and ask if there’s a reason to continue. We are at 5 years, so now is a good time to take a look at where we are in relation to our mission and what’s next. Our mission is about experimenting and sharing what we learn. To date, we’ve focused primarily on experimenting. Now it’s time to shift that focus to sharing what we’ve learned from those demonstration projects.
We know the future is about sharing what we’ve learned, but sharing in what ways? What will that look like? In staying true to our values, it became clear that the answer should be up to the people impacted.
We spent the summer creating a plan for how to get those answers. What you’ve been seeing recently has been the result of that planning. We’ve gotten 60 responses so far.
Throughout the first few weeks of December, we’ll be facilitating live conversations about the next questions in Catalytic Thinking. Today, we’re figuring out what those conversations will be about – what themes have come out so far.
After some reflection about what we’re noticing in the responses, we considered what themes are arising as we consider the responses in aggregate. The following are the answers we came up with.
What are you noticing in the responses so far?
- I liked the invitation that was sent out. It felt natural and it was easy to respond to. That’s one thing I’ve noticed about this process, it doesn’t feel forced or contrived. It feels authentic and well-contextualized. It’s easy to understand why someone might want to be involved.
- I’ve been using this format in other realms to see how it translates. I love receiving the emails from Creating the Future. It always feels like an honor that you want me involved.
- A lot of the responses seemed intuitive. If I had guessed what people might say, this would have been it.
- I didn’t fully appreciate before this how interrelated this work is and how it’s happening at so many different levels. This also creates challenges in how we communicate about it.
- We do this work so often and we have no idea what people are doing with it. To hear over and over what they’re doing – it’s mind blowing! There was one response from someone who worked with us in 2014 and haven’t heard from since. They spoke about the deep impact this has had, going so far as to quote lines that resonated with them way back when. This has been really affirming that what we’ve been doing all this time is really making a difference.
- This has made me feel connected and part of a community. There aren’t a lot of people using this framework in my immediate sphere, but it was great to hear about people using this in all different contexts from around the world.
- It was great to see so many commonwealth spellings. It really gave a sense of how broad the reach has been.
What themes resonate through all the responses?
- To use a new process for solving a problem that comes up in their lives. What does it take to get going?
- Why do people feel they need a new process?
- Processing the intersection of time and connection. A lot of the responses to Question #1 demonstrated that people have sat with this for a while. How do we allow for and leverage the staying power of these questions? This requires a very difficult technique than something immediate.
- I got several notes from people who were involved very early on, before there even was a Creating the Future. They all said something along the lines of “catalytic thinking has made a deep impression on my life, but I don’t feel connected to Creating the Future because my life has changed and I’m not consulting any more.” People who came to catalytic thinking from a very narrow lens of “this will make you better at this specific thing” seemed to share this impression. We missed something about when we evolved that we didn’t bring people along.
- There were a number of responses that specifically mentioned that this was something that could be applied to other aspects of life. How can we help people navigate that transition?
- On one of these calls, someone mentioned using catalytic thinking in relationships, and I remember going “hunh?” That’s not how my brain had been compartmentalizing this. We are so trained to separate work things from personal things.
- I had a conversation with someone who responded and has had a really difficult few years and said that catalytic thinking had gotten them through a lot of it.
- This notion of reframing is central – not just reframing questions, but also reframing one’s life and how one relates to the world. It’s often easier for people to think about how they reframe their approach to their job, but thinking about reframing how you decide on dinner is a totally different thing. How gutsy do you want to be when you reframe? Do you truly want to change the world?
- We so frequently talk about how Catalytic Thinking moves us from reacting to creating, from scarcity to enoughness, so maybe it’s that mindset shift that underlines so much of what people shared. The reframing is in some of the language we use to shift the way we’re thinking.
- I recently had an experience where we were looking for someone to work in the office and then we realized we had all of these contractors working for us in another capacity – all we had to do was make the ask. I’m also thinking about communication. We’ve been using nonviolent communication – which is often an intimate, personal tool – to help ease tensions between staff working on different shifts. The mashup of the personal with the business world is key
- A lot of people are now translating the five love languages to how we communicate at work. This comes from that same kind of “a-ha”
- This makes me think about how we come to Creating the Future. Love languages are something I would have come to in my personal life, whereas Creating the Future is something I came to in my work life. How has this entry made one concept more likely to fall into one silo versus the other?
- We all are faced with change – no matter if it’s our work or personal lives. Traditionally, if you’re doing strategic planning, for example, the typical way to do that is to look at all the challenges you’re facing and react to them. Catalytic Thinking does not come at it from that direction. It reverse engineers based on what you want to see. Change is the thing that connects everything. If you don’t use Catalytic Thinking, there’s a greater chance you’re going to spend your time with challenges rather than looking above the muck.
- A lot of what people are talking about is the impact of Catalytic Thinking itself and what it could make possible – the actual questions, the power of the framework and the actual questions. Some of this, though, is about the power of connection, the building of trust. It’s the not being alone.
- As we’re talking about this, the thought that keeps coming to my mind is the impact of industrialization on the way our minds work. We compartmentalize because that’s how industrialization works. If you’re on the assembly line, you’re only thinking about your little part of the process. It’s that separation. I sometimes think about how medicine works – I see a podiatrist who will only look at my feet and an optometrist who will only look at my eyes – but we’re one unit. We are one being and connecting what I see as my work being and my home being is part of reconciling that.
- One of the challenges is that planning is not designed to look at the whole. To truly be holistic requires a shift in consciousness and a planning framework is not organized around a shift in consciousness.
- A reframing in words – from planning to decision-making. A plan is just a decision to take some action.
- If, right now, someone told me I have three seconds to prepare for facilitating these live sessions, the big themes are 1) shift mindsets and re-frame via the questions and 2) connect with others who are also trying to do or think about this work. I also found it interesting, although this didn’t make it into the larger themes, the idea of serving as a model. There are people – not a lot – who appreciate the fact that we are experimenting out loud.
- I’m wondering if there’s something around – to what end? There can be shifting and reframing towards not so good ends, but what we’re talking about is towards more progressive, equitable futures.
- I like that – it’s the change, it’s the outcome – whatever issue that’s facing us is what actually drives the need.
- In our communications, we frequently use the phrase “a more healthy, humane, equitable world.” And I would want that in my personal life, as well.
If we are going to ask about the conditions necessary to shift mindsets & connect – do these feel comprehensive enough to do what we need to do?
- Is there also something around getting engaged to begin with? I think there was at least one person who said they weren’t sure how to get started or to connect.
- There were a lot of responses that said this space is for everyone – but how did you know that about this group?
- That resonates and I think we noticed that on the general Facebook group – there was a real lack of examples for how people were using it. It comes back to what makes you take the first step and how do you come to terms with something that doesn’t feel comfortable in order to find that comfort down the line.
- People join for what they can get and they stay for what they can give. That also gets into the inclusion and equity issues we’ve talked about
- One of the things I think about is expectations. What are the expectations of someone who encounters Catalytic Thinking and Creating the Future? That is a point of entry.
- Now three themes – 1) getting started and staying involved; 2) Connecting with others; 3) Shifting mindsets towards a more humane world
- Is there something about actually doing Catalytic Thinking, learning the tools to implement? Particularly the tools to implement that can bring other people along.
- I wonder if the tools themselves are conditions rather than outcomes. This may be the answer to – what does it take to shift that conversation? The intention to find common ground, Catalytic Listening, etc.
- If there’s something we missed, it will come up.
- Reframing or shifting mindsets is an outcome. Is this based on an assumption that they want to make change? If this was implicit, is there value in stating it out loud?
- We’re talking about shifting mindsets and reframing towards a more humane, healthy, equitable world and making change in your life. This can be embedded in the question. One of the things that became clear in the “who would be impacted?” question is – anyone who wants to make a change.
- We have our prep session on 11/28 for these facilitated questions
By the end of this session, we had the outcomes we would be asking about in our facilitated conversations in December.
What do people need to know / have in order to…
1) Shift mindsets around creating change in their lives and their work, towards creating a more humane, healthy, equitable world?
2) Connect with others who are practicing Catalytic Thinking?
3) Get start and stay involved with the practice?
As we do at the end of every meeting, we then reflected on what stood out in the conversation.
- It’s been wonderful reading all of the messages about people’s reasons for being drawn to this work. I can’t wait to see what this will do at scale.
- I feel like we’re moving in a good direction and making progress towards a better understanding of Creating the Future and where we’re headed.
- I feel settled at the end of this – which is a good sign that we said what needed to be said. I’m still thinking about that question posed earlier – how gutsy do you want to be? And how we can choose to be brave and ask questions that are different and imagine a different future.
- I’m thinking about how give-back this is. We have asked people to give us their responses but it’s all in the process of giving back. This is why people stay. This is such an important part of what makes this not a sales pitch. How do you get through the noise? One way is sincerity and this is a very sincere process. That sincerity really comes across.
- In the time that we were getting responses in, I was even more attentive to the number of survey requests I was getting from folks. There were so many ‘how are we doing?” asks.
- It’s satisfying to come up with the questions that resonate and encapsulate what was a lot of information to sift through. I appreciated a recent share about how to change from our default way of sharing and asking for engagement. I’m also very interested as a relative newcomer regarding attendance – who choses to or is able to come to these meetings? There are a lot of people who have had some contact with Creating the Future and this group, so it’s very interesting to see how they’re choosing to connect.
- I’m reflecting on the discussion earlier about how some people only see Catalytic Thinking as part of their professional lives or their personal lives – not both. This separation had not occurred to me, so I’m considering what allows an experience or some knowledge to transcend its context for me? I don’t have an answer, but that’s what I’m sitting with.
- There is a real feeling of calm. I’m so grateful for the depth of conversation we had this summer. This effort so embodies everything we talked about and the conditions that needed to be present. We spent so much time talking about the human connection piece. I love the fact that we never called this a survey. There’s so many pieces of what we did this summer and it all just worked. This feels right.
Throughout the month of December, our team will be facilitating the next Catalytic Thinking question: What conditions will lead to those outcomes? If you haven’t already registered to be part of those conversations, you can do so here.