NEW Online Course – Catalytic Thinking 101: Bringing out the Best in PEOPLE

Creating the Future is building a whole new curriculum of immersive online learning. The goal of that curriculum is simple, yet so powerful, it can change everything:

Goal: 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.

That full curriculum of 6 courses is described here.

This post will describe the first of those classes – Catalytic Thinking 101.  

After reading this description, if you want to be notified when this class is open for registration, please let us know here!

PLEASE NOTE:  This is a first draft of the text that will eventually become several inter-linked pages at our website. We are sharing the draft as a single post for your comments. (See the questions at the end of this post to help us make the class description the best it can be!)

Overview: Catalytic Thinking 101
This introductory class will cover two big topics:

1) An introduction to the overall practice of Catalytic Thinking (described in detail here)
2) A deep dive into the PEOPLE aspect of Catalytic Thinking

The format will be rooted in a cohort of 8 participants plus 2 instructors, in a “live” online environment. (See details below).

In this post, you will find the following:
     • Context: Change the Questions, Change the World!
     • Who is this Class for?
     • Pre-requisites
     • Course Content: Knowledge, Skills and Practice
     • What You Can Expect
     • Course Format
     • What’s Next? (Our plea for your help in making this description the best it can be!)

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 that one simple 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

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 solving or preventing problems. It is for people who sense that a new tool or tip will not create the kinds of change they are seeking – that it will take something more sweeping (even if you’re not certain what exactly that thing is).

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.

Course Content
Catalytic Thinking is a practice for creating the conditions that bring out the best in people and situations. That means there are three components to the framework:

     1) People
     2) People and Situations
     3) Situations

The focus of this class will be that first component – bringing out the best in PEOPLE, stemming from one of the main tenets of Catalytic Thinking.

It’s always about the people; it’s never about the thing.

When things go wrong, the problem we are addressing is the impact of that issue on people – or the degree to which people have been the cause of the issue in the first place. If it weren’t for people, a tsunami would just be a weather pattern. It’s always about the people.

So that’s where we will begin.

In this class you will gain knowledge, skills, and perspectives that will help you create and hold the space for the people around you (and that includes you!) to be at their best.

Participants will broaden their understanding of the following concepts, through reading and video/audio, and through discussion and exploration with fellow participants.

  • Theoretical overview of the components of Catalytic Thinking, to understand why the practice is so powerful, as well as the interplay of the three components.
  • Practical focus will be on the PEOPLE component – deeper understanding of what it takes to create and hold the space for ourselves and others to be at our/their best.

Participants will discuss and explore the following concepts:

  • What does it mean to create conditions and hold the space for others to be at their best?
  • What does it take to create safe space? What does it take to create trust?
  • What does it mean to lead from the middle? (And how does one do that?)
  • What is really happening when people are at their best? What are the conditions that support that? What does it take to create and maintain those conditions?
  • What does it mean in practice to “walk the talk” or “model our values?”

Participants will spend the vast majority of their in-class and between-class time 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.

During the class, participants will practice with these skills and approaches:

  • What does it look like and feel like to use questions to change conditions and situations? Which questions bring out the potential in ourselves and others (vs. questions that keep us 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 does it take to create that “effortless” feeling (pulling back the curtain to see what is really going on in those successful group dynamics)?
  • What does it take to create conditions for successful interactions between people? What might that look like in practice in the workplace? In our families? In bringing together different groups to benefit our communities?
  • What is at the heart of a successful collaboration? What does it take to create that synergy and alignment?
  • What does it take to invite a whole person into the room (vs. acknowledging people by their position or title or a narrow skill set)? Where do stories fit into that invitation? What kind of stories?
  • What would it take to introduce Catalytic Thinking’s people-centered practices into workplaces that disparage such approaches as “touchy feely” and/or otherwise not applicable?
  • What aspects of the physical environment lead to people being at their best? What would it take to create favorable conditions in the physical environment?
  • What does it look like in practice to walk the talk of common values? What approaches to values discussions create meaningful parameters (vs. knee-jerking to pablum words such as “respect, honesty, integrity, transparency”)?
  • What does it take to move beyond ineffective communication patterns, to create more effective and meaningful communications with the people we encounter every day?
  • What does it take to find the abundance of experience, wisdom, skills and spirit of everyone around us? How can the questions we ask catalyze that potential?

Practice and Perspective in Day-to-Day Life:
The ultimate goal of this part of the Catalytic Thinking practice is that we be more effective catalysts for the potential in the people around us – including ourselves. 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.

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

During the class, participants will explore and practice…

  • Where does this practice fit for you? 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 practices would help you respond to any situation in a way that brings out the best in the PEOPLE?
  • In a world that values efficiency over effectiveness, what is the value of taking time to get to know each other as whole people (vs. positions)? 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 each other? Which are counterproductive to that goal? What practices will help us 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 for people to be at their best? What would it take for any workplace to be 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: 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 the material is very much the same as what you will learn, not just in this 101 course but in the entire online curriculum, we know you will get a lot out of listening to what Justin, Rebecca and Lisa had to say about their experience.

While Catalytic Thinking 101 is still being developed, at this time we are certain it will include the following components:

  • Class duration: 2-3 months (still being determined) 
  • Small cohorts: Maximum of 6 participants in each class, with 2 instructors per class
  • Reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts
  • Group class time live online every few weeks (to be scheduled at times that work for the participants)
  • 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.
  • 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 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).

Catalytic Thinking 101: What’s Next?
We will be opening registration for this class in September. Every few months after that, we will be rolling out another course in the full Catalytic Thinking curriculumIt is therefore important that we set the stage for doing this right, because this long stream of text will eventually be broken into several web pages, with photos and formatting to make it as readable as possible – our main promotion / invitation pages for these classes!

Which is where you come in. We need your help to make sure those pages have everything they need.

And so we are asking…

  • Is the description of this class clear? Do you have enough information to decide if this class is for you?
  • What is missing? What do you wish this draft answered that it does not? What questions does this leave you with?
  • What would it take for this description to answer all your questions? (Is it just a missing question? Or is it the need for a different style of description? Or a whole heading that is missing? Or…?)

We look forward to making this the most accurate and inspiring course description it can be. And we are grateful for your help in making that happen!

If you want to be notified when this class is open for registration, please let us know here!

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