Turning off to turn your brain on.

elephantsEarlier this week I spent a wonderfully inspiring day being reminded of the power of establishing a thinking environment with Nancy Kline, bestselling author of Time to Think.

During this time the issue of digital addiction came up and how “we have become slaves to the tools which were supposed to empower us”. Well, I’m as addicted as anyone and there is no ways I was letting this little smartphone be dragged out of my sweaty palm without a fight. However let’s consider the following;

One, giving someone your focussed attention, listening curiously and without interruption, significantly improves their ability to think independently,

And two, having your smartphone, ipad or laptop visible during meetings effectively stops you from thinking well. And what’s possibly worse, it also stops others from thinking well,

And if we understand that the quality of everything we do, every decision we take, depends on the quality of the independent thinking we do first, it would seem obvious the first responsibility of leadership is to help people think,

And that means providing full, generative attention, without interruption or distraction, while people think together.

If making meetings a digital no go zone would substantially increase the value of that time it seems a no brainer to me. So brace yourself, grab a pastry to calm the jitters, and turn that phone off! (And if you are now rolling your eyes in disbelief, check out the evidence in this longer article by Daniel J Levitan …..or, you could just trust me!).

if you are keen to know more about generating great thinking in your meetings chat to us about our Time to Think accredited Transforming Meetings workshops.

So what do people want?


I though I would share a little information around an issue that keeps coming up in executive coaching  conversations. How does one boost employee productivity and engagement?

An interesting Harvard Business Review article notes  that  many leaders make the  surprisingly common, and wrong,  assumption  that pay equals engagement. In fact research shows there is only a small correlation between pay and job satisfaction  and  there is much more to the high performance equation than merely income. It’s known that recognition and intrinsic motivation are much more important to our success, and this article discusses how recognition can boost engagement. An interesting read.

One thing I am sure you will remember is that  I always mention that  changing the way you  use meetings makes a big difference. Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment argues that everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first – and our thinking depends on the quality of our attention for each other. The Transforming Meetings training we offer results in savings of both time and money as well as improved relationships and  greater cooperation. If you, or someone you think might be interested, are ever keen to see the magic at work we have some workshops coming up.

Listening to staff can also make a leaders job so much easier – however one  thing people often struggle with is finding  ways of giving  staff a voice and the confidence to use it. Mark Graham, CEO of  the promotional marketing company Right Sleeve has some  ideas… 

It would be great to hear if you’ve had any positive  experiences of using listening and positive acknowledgement to boost engagement and  productivity.