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Thought leadership:

Principles and tools of thought channels

(The Thought Leadership cribsheet)
Derived by David Cushman from ‘Thought Leadership’ by Robin Ryde


Standard thought channels (and triggers questions/language/environment)

Deficit thinking What do you think Weaknesses, Encouragement
of this? problems, rarely needed!
shortfalls, risks,
concerns, faults,
but, however
Rational Thinking What would your Diagnosis, Serious business
analysis be? assessment, meeting conditions
reason, logic
Common Sense What is our view Sensible, Gathering of
Thinking on this? reasonable, on generalists
balance, straw
poll, all things
Binary thinking What are our Either, or’, ‘change Crisis situations
options here? tack, on the one
Equity thinking Are we being Fair, Unfair, Gathering of
consistent here? equitable, equal, representatives of
consistent, larger groupings
comparable eg union

Holding pattern questions:

Seek further descriptive (not analytical) elaboration.
Invite problem holder/presenter to outline what they hope to achieve from the
Provide neutral conversational distraction (eg, you must have been working on
this for some time… etc)
Introduce a physical break to the conversation (coffee anyone?)
Explicitly recognise the need to select a process for the discussion: let’s pause
for thought for a moment. What’s the best way X can get full value from the
Channel flipping – evaluate the value of what’s been contributed in the
channel before you flip from it.

Broader repertoire: The shadow sides of the dominant thought channels.

Dominant function Shadow function

Deficit thinking Strength-based thinking
Rational thinking Feeling thinking
Common Sense thinking Insight thinking
Equity thinking 360 degree thinking
Binary thinking Re-integrated thinking
Sticky thinking Exit thinking

Qualities of particular channels

Qualities Qualities Most appropriate
Energy Generating energy • Strength-based
(conversational fuel) thinking
• Feeling thinking
• Re-integrated
Ideas Generating ideas and • Insight thinking
possible solutions • Strength-based
• 360-degree
• Reintegrated
Ideas Generating breakthrough • Strength-based
ideas thinking
• Reintegrated
Buy in Achieving buy-in to new • Feeling thinking
ideas and strategies • Strength-based
• 360-degree
• Common sense
Idea sifting Sifting ideas and • Deficit thinking
possibilities • Feeling thinking
Implementation Easy implementation of • Insight thinking
new ideas and strategies • Strength-based
Best modes of thinking for generating new ideas and possibilities:
(continuum of thinking channels)

Proven solutions Un-proven breakthroughs

Insight thinking/360 degree/strength-based thinking/re-integrated thinking

The meeting checklist:

1. This is what we need to achieve by the end of the discussion…

2. This is the job I would like the participants to do…
3. It will be my job to keep focusing the discussion on the objective by…