Since writing Shifting Stories, I have become increasingly interested in Nancy Kline’s work on the Thinking Environment as described in her books Time to Think, and More Time To Think. I have been trained by Nancy on her Thinking Partners programme, and am booking on to her next coaching programme.
And as I familiarise myself with her work in practice, I am increasingly interested in how it may relate to the ManyStory Approach.
According to Nancy: ‘the ten behaviours that generate the finest thinking, and have become known as The Ten Components of a Thinking Environment, are: Attention, Equality, Ease, Appreciation, Encouragement, Feelings, Information, Diversity, Incisive Questions, Place.’
These are all completely consistent with a ManyStory Approach, of course. Where the two diverge is in the process. Kline’s thinking sessions start with a completely non-directive question ‘What do you want to think about? (pause…) and what are your thoughts?’ and continue with the equally content-free: 'What more do you think (pause…) or feel (pause…) or want to say?’
In this way, the coachee is in full control of the content and direction of the conversation. Whereas, in a ManyStory Approach, the coach takes responsibility for putting a structure on the coaching conversation, following the three phases of the model.
Of course, I wouldn’t dive into doing that without an initial conversation, that might well follow a pure Thinking Environment approach. But I cannot see how one would make the transition from that to a ManyStory Approach without the coach directly suggesting it (albeit as an option) during the session.
If you have worked with the Thinking Environment, and particularly if you have also used it in conjunction with other, more coach-directed approaches, I would be really interested in your reflections on your experience.
Incidentally, whilst I am a big fan of the Thinking Environment approach, I think that the ManyStory approach has some additional benefits; in particular with regard to planning for the survival of good intentions beyond the session. But again, I would be interested in other peoples’ views and experience with the Thinking Environment in this regard, too.