Create a thinking environment

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Published by
Jan Hills
November 8, 2017

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We’ve found that many of the objectives of fostering inclusivity and creating a sense of belonging are achieved by having a structured approach to decision-making and problem solving.

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One approach which has the advantage of tackling several issues at once is Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment which values, encourages and celebrates deep quality thinking. From our discussions with organisations using this methodology, as well as Kline herself, it seems to be getting remarkable results. It includes a safe, inclusive environment as part of its design, and its 10 components also work according to the brain-savvy principles of minimising threat and increasing reward.

Kline’s method helps to mitigate gender bias in two ways:

  • It encourages the masculine trait of thinking deeply and makes it accessible to both genders.
  • The principle behaviours used are mainly feminine in style and the process enables men to legitimately adopt these traits by providing an environment where they are not just required but celebrated.

These two components have an equalising effect, allowing men and women to practise a wider range of behaviours. The structured process also discourages any negative micro-behaviours, aggressive language or stealing of other people’s ideas. The method slows down thinking: going deeper, looking for quality over quantity, listening equally to everyone involved. And with some regular practise the process spreads throughout an organisation.

Create a thinking environment

To achieve a culture of inclusion, managers and leaders need to be able to create an environment where people do their best thinking. Applying Kline’s process to the issue of gender inequality might include considering such questions as:

  • “What
would
change
in
the organisation if we accepted women for who they are?”
  • “How
would
the
very
structures
and
goals
of
work
change
if
we eliminated gender stereotypes?”
  • “How
will
men
benefit
from
women’s
leadership?”
  • “What would we do to fully embrace mothers in this organisation?”
  • “What would we do to fully embrace fathers in this organisation?”

The payoff? People who feel they belong perform better, are more willing to challenge themselves, and are more resilient.

 

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