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4 steps to expand your thinking

4 steps to expand your thinking

Our old way of operating may blind us to the best solutions

When most of us face a challenge, we typically fall back on our own way of doing things, or what we learned from what has worked for us in the past. But when we’re faced with complex situations and uncertainty, our old way of operating may blind us to the best solutions.
For example, when preparing for a family holiday backpacking around the world (let’s think big!), we go through a process over a period of time to ensure we have everything we may possibly need. We educate ourselves, plan what we will carry, what/who will meet us and where, and we research the possible routes, pitfalls and distractions. Most importantly we prepare ourselves – our fitness, our health and our mental approach. And that is just for a start.

McKinsey call this “managing the probable”

So how do we change the constraint of thinking? In many of our formative experiences, we’ve learned that some simple problems have one right answer. For more complicated problems, we respond with analysis or look to others with more experience or status. We look for answers that will offer some assurance of predictability, if not outright certainty.
In the business situation, we know we want clarity and certainty. We will ask questions to narrow our focus: What is the expected return on this investment? What is the three-year plan for this venture? What resources will we need? What are the hidden obstacles? Where do we go for advice when we need it?
Asking these kinds of questions – very often legitimate in business-as-usual settings – actually constrain teams in unusual, complex situations, such as responding to a quickly changing market or social demand for change. Deep thinking in organisations, therefore, is at a premium.

So how do we change the constraint of thinking.

What we want you to challenge yourself on first is to move from the known of “managing the probable” to an uncertain concept of “leading the possible”.
This will require us to address challenges in a fundamentally different way by opening up our minds and using a new approach. We must ignore our familiar patterns of thought that keep us stuck in our current way of operating and thinking. Our objective is to expand the possible options, experiment in low-risk ways, and realise potentially large payoffs.
Leading the possible involves coping with our own anxieties about an unknowable and uncontrollable world.  A few simple changes in the thinking structure presented here can help us toward thinking and acting differently.
When we treat challenges as different, complex, and uncertain, we can unlock solutions of immense creativity and power.

So where to start?


The first step is not to focus on “what” you think, but “how” you think.

Your content follows from your structure, not the other way around.
Take the example of a tree – we can’t explain fully what a tree is if we just see the tree. The tree is much more than a tree, its alive and connected to the earth. The tree impacts other plants in the garden as well as the soil it grows in for a start. Then there are the seasons that create a changing tree. It may have blossom, bear fruit or produce something else like rubber. The world, the weather, the local conditions, the animals around it, the human involvement all play a part in the life of a tree.
Therefore the tree becomes a small part of a much larger whole, where there are many, many parts that give us a richer picture to consider.

After becoming aware of your structure, suspend what you know, and open yourself to new experiences.

We all have a Frame of Reference by which we view the world. As I have explained in a previous blog, this Frame of Reference can hold us to ransom with old tried and true ways of thinking based on our experiences.
Be open to a new Frame of Reference – answer questions differently from the past, and even ask new questions. Or just let your current Frame of Reference go.

Leverage a thinking framework called “Thought Forms”

Professor Otto Laske of the Interdevelopmental Institute in Boston teaches dialectical thinking through a framework which he calls “Thought Forms”.
Thought Forms give us the structure that allows us to open our minds to other worlds that we currently do not see – and they can be learned.

Thought Forms fit into four dimensions of reality

To make is easier to get your head around, Thought Forms fit into four different dimensions of reality. These are called: Process, Context, Relationship and Transformation. Each of these dimensions show us a differently structured world, and the Thought Forms within each dimension are the keys to understanding our real world complexity better.
Over the next few weeks I will be introducing you to each of the four different dimensions of thinking commencing with Context.

Why coach training?

Why coach training?

Five reasons to take ilume’s world-class Coach Training Program


Thinking of becoming a coach?


Keen to stretch yourself to improve your way of connecting with others?


Keen to stretch yourself to improve your way of connecting with others?


Want to understand yourself better?


Yearning for some time out to learn something new for yourself?

Then this program is worth considering

An eight-day program that is divided into 3 modules – 3 days, 3 days, 2 days, with a month in between each module. Study, coaching practice and reading review after the program. Culminating in a world-class internationally recognised coaching qualification from the International Coaching Community.  Life time membership of that global Community.


You will get to know yourself

This journey of development starts in one place, and one place only.  And that is with you.
If you are to take on a role of coaching others, leading others and collaborating with others, then knowing yourself, and taking a long hard look at the way you behave and respond to things is the first step on the program.
60% of the course program is experiential, which means that every day you are not only learning new concepts and data but most importantly you are then working with others on the program to understand and embed them.
Truth, trust and respect become the cornerstone of the first module along with the realisation that you are ‘in development’.
Supported by two facilitators, the owners of ilume – Angela Neighbours and Raechel Ford are two of the world’s best coach trainers.  Every year they can be found somewhere in the world honing their own skills, and developing themselves – they will tell you this is a wonderful journey of discovery for life!

You will build a new network of like-minded colleagues

We offer this program in New Zealand three times a year in our bespoke offices in Auckland.  Our class numbers are kept to a small select group of like-minded professionals (based on enrolments we will recommend the best program for you).
We have a maximum of 10-12 participants in total.   People who have attended our program in the past include: Senior Human Resources Executives, Chief Executives, Operations Managers, General Managers, Lawyers, Accountants, Psychologists, Consultants, Public Sector leaders. We have attracted a range of industries as well – banking, manufacturing, professional services, retailing, fast moving consumer goods, insurance, advertising and marketing.
Ask us for a list of previous participants – they are very happy to share their experience with you.
You will work together.  You will get to know each other deeply.  The contact continues long after the program is complete. ilume also brings the alumni together twice a year for collaboration and further development.

You will learn the latest theories, based on global academic thinking and research

Our program is in constant development and improvement in line with the way ideas and concepts are being brought forward in our fast moving world.   At ilume we run an Executive Coaching business in both New Zealand and Australia and are in the market every day, so you can be confident that we are introducing you to the very best and latest thinking.
Coaching requires the latest trends and techniques, and the most effective models.  Our clients expect the best!
You will walk away from our program with at least 25 proven coaching models that we use in the ilume business every day.  You will have a proven toolbox of ideas to use.   You will have worked with them all, become familiar with them, and even designed your own models with other course participants.

You will meet ilume’s clients

During the program we will organise for some guest appearances – leaders who have worked with ilume in a coaching relationship – who will join us for coaching from the participants.
These leaders will bring live issues to the group for solving from a coaching perspective.  This gives every participant the opportunity to extend their understanding of the coaching philosophy, to test their newly learned skills, and apply it in a safe environment.

You will be given feedback every day of the program

Although as adults we learn best by doing, real-time feedback can often become the guidebook for changing ourselves.  Every day of the program you will be coaching in front of the group, and be given feedback not only from your fellow participants, but also from the two ilume Directors – Angela Neighbours and Raechel Ford.
Our style is not to destruct, but to be positive, reinforcing and assisting to you in your journey of change. We are here with you for the duration of the program, will meet you in between the modules if you require it, and will give you 100% support to succeed in your quest to be a world-class coach.