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The Thinking Expedition

Observations, Lessons Learned & Operating Principles

  • A Thinking Expedition is not normal.

  • While some things are clear and precise, many things are not.
    By its very nature, much of an expedition's route is unclear and unknown. The agenda for the session is purposefully fuzzy.

  • Expeditions are driven largely by conditions encountered (largely unpredictable) and by the route (frequently unclear). Much of what happens on expedition is beyond the guide's control.

  • A Thinking Expedition is strongly focused on mission and results. Pre-planning to set a clear mission and objectives with backers and sponsors (the clients) is critical.

  • The operating concept, the idea, of an expedition provides the structure of the session or workshop; the content - output and results - comes out of the process of discovery as the expedition unfolds.

  • There is a plan and schedule. However, what is planned frequently does not work out. Flexibility in execution is essential. Mealtime is unscheduled. Rest and nature breaks are taken opportunistically.

  • The expedition guide is responsible for process. The sponsor defines the mission focus (the mess) and the content. Team members are responsible for new ideas and diverse perspectives.

  • On expedition, the team moves out together, stays together, shuts things down together. Late arrivals, moving in-and-out to take care of other business, and early departures are equivalent to unexpected disasters and loss of life.

  • Days are long, full, intense and demanding -- the schedule deliberately pushes people outside their normal (1-Sigma) limits both mentally and physically.

  • Thinking, and particularly thinking diffferent, is demanding, hard work. At the end of the day people are mentally exhausted from thinking at new levels and in new ways. Reflection time is critical.

  • Thinking Expeditions create mindshifts - significant changes in thinking processes. Corresponding changes then follow in how things are done, producing diffferent results.

  • A Thinking Expedition takes time.

Do you realize that...