Monday, April 19, 2010

Why FullThought? Why Now?

I am in the process of maturing a business I call FullThought. I teach and practice decision making and problem solving tools for everyday life. Tools not based on bringing another expert to our table but rather ones that help us recognize that we have more wisdom in our current circles than we sometimes know. What we often lack are the tools to bring people together in a way that maximizes talent and contribution. The tools I use seem so ridiculously easy sometimes I struggle to find words for my great faith in where they will lead us. In almost daily conversations with myself and others I find myself addressing: Why FullThought? Why now?

One answer is that we don’t need to look far to see examples of partial thought in our current world. Our financial crisis is the result of partial thought.

Gillian Tett of The Financial Times writes in her book Fools Gold, that our “entire financial system went wrong as a result of flawed incentives within banks and investment funds, as well as the rating agencies; warped regulatory structures; and a lack of oversight.” It turns out that the current global financial crisis is a story about people we thought were the smartest players in the industry. Their decisions turned out to be “remarkably na├»ve, reckless or, in some cases, downright stupid”, I quote Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times who reviewed Ms Tett’s book.

In the 1960’s we began to do research about the impact school size has on our public education system. Early on researchers saw strong indicators that schools which housed more than 500 students had sharp increases in delinquency and poorer academic outcomes. Since that time it has been almost impossible to find public schools with fewer than 500 students. School size does not appear to be a factor in outcomes when we compare schools of 500-1000 students so we have determined that school size is not a variable. We live with a school system that needs major overhaul and yet we invest large sums of money in education reform that amounts to little more than rearranging the chairs on the deck of the titanic.

We continue to be a culture that feeds a billion dollar industry to incarcerate a larger segment of our population than any industrialized nation with little or no public debate about the impact, wellness and the return of these individuals to our community.

We continue to be a culture that is destroying the land, water and air we depend on for survival.

We continue to be a culture that sees “troop surges” and the war machine as our answer to building global stability.

FullThought is hoping to contribute to a quiet revolution that is going on around us. I believe that it is through simple practices of listening that we can begin to reshape the culture of our major decisions in this country. We must first begin in all the small conversations we find ourselves in daily, with our family, our children, our neighbors, our co-workers, the team that reports to us, and most importantly those that cause us the most challenge and discouragement.

FullThought provides simple practices to bring people together behind new visions for our lives and work. We teach we must first say clearly “What are we trying to get done?”. We teach the importance of clarifying the objectives that guide us. We name out loud the thoughtful and creative questions that confound us or inspire us. We encourage the widening of who is at the table in decisions making. We teach a process that draws from all voices and perspectives. We have witnessed countless times that these practices encourage deeper thought, relevant contribution and constructive actions.

We hope that those reading this blog will find useful tools for the revolutions you seek in your work and in your life.

Next Entry: Is White a culture too? The impact of white American culture on our professional and personal style of decision making