Developing a Thinking Environment for Transformational Coaching & Leadership Practice

A Four-Day, Two-Modular Programme with Dr Sunny Stout-Rostron

November 2013 and February 2014 programmes fully booked!

For details of 2014 dates and venue, email Sunny at

Who should attend?

The question Nancy Kline thinks coaches need to be asking themselves is, “What more can we do to help people to think for themselves?” If you are a trained coach or coaching psychologist who wishes to enhance your mastery of practice as a coach, then this is the programme for you. This is also a valuable programme for leaders, trained in coaching, who wish to integrate a coaching approach into their management of teams and individuals. When all Ten Components® of a Thinking Environment® are present there is a coaching element in the conversation. This work has been embraced by the coaching world because it generates individual, independent and critical thinking in people who are then able to collaborate more effectively in the workplace. If you are prepared to commit to on-going mastery of practice then the facilitator of this programme welcomes you.


The entire programme is four days (two two-day modules) at R9 500 plus VAT, paid in advance. Dates and venues are determined according to numbers. Each programme takes a minimum and a maximum of six participants for the four-day programme.

Overview: A four-day programme in two modules

The Thinking Environment® is a practical way to put into action the value of diversity and inclusiveness throughout an organisation; getting the best from people means getting their best thinking. This means “knowing how to treat people, how to offer them the highest quality attention, how to ask incisive questions, how to recognise people’s strengths and achievements, how to entice them beyond an addiction to certainty and into a preference for responsible risk” (Nancy Kline).

A Thinking Environment® is more efficient, more inclusive, leads to concrete positive business results, produces high-quality, rich ideas in less time, shows team members how to resolve difficulties more easily and to understand each other better, leaves them more enthusiastic about their work together, more hopeful about successes ahead, and with greater buy-in to decisions made by the group.

The Thinking Environment® is a methodology based on world-wide research into the behaviour of individuals, groups and organisations over a period of twenty years. These concepts have evolved from engaging with issues of what best enables individuals and collectives to think effectively, effortlessly and elegantly. In today’s challenging and fast-paced times, true innovation and excellence can be found only if individuals are encouraged to think for themselves. Gone are the days when one or two people “at the top” of organisations can instruct without participation.

People today want the freedom to contribute their unique skills and abilities to their organisations, and to contribute to the pace of change, innovation and competition in the market place within which they work. Founded by Nancy Kline, the Thinking Environment® is underpinned by Positive Philosophical Choice, the Ten Components® (or behaviours) and Incisive Questions. The Thinking Environment® is based on the premise that when individuals and groups learn to bring together ten specific behaviours they create an environment in which people can think beyond historic limiting assumptions towards greater creativity, power and effectiveness.


The Thinking Environment® has several applications. Its core programme rests on training individuals to first offer themselves as a Thinking Partner to another individual − receiving an equal chance to have “time to think” in return. During the Thinking Partnership® programme, participants learn about the Ten Components® and how to focus their attention bringing all Ten Components® together, thus providing a profound and safe environment in which the Thinker frees him/herself from limiting assumptions, moving powerfully in the direction of achieving their goals. Once this process has been mastered, participants learn to apply the Thinking Environment® to more effective coaching and leadership/management processes such as “Transforming Meetings”, “The Council” (how to give input in a team whilst maintaining the Thinking Environment®), “Timed Talk” (resolving conflict), Dialogue, Open Discussion and “Diversity” work.

The Thinking Partnership® Programme

The Thinking Environment® is seen as a concrete way to operationalise the Core Values of an organisation. Developing a group into a “Thinking Environment®” team is a practical way to transform an abstract core value such as ‘respect’ for people into a daily practice.

The Thinking Environment® is experienced in an organisation as a practical way to put into action the values of respect, equality, diversity and inclusiveness. “A Thinking Environment® demonstrates that everyone benefits when in practice everyone matters” (Nancy Kline).

DAY ONE: 08h00-17h30

  • Welcome.
  • Overview of a Thinking Environment®
  • Introduction of the Ten Components® for a Thinking Environment®.
  • Introductions in rounds.
  • Further rounds of questions of increasing levels of disclosure in order to establish safety.
  • Principles of a Thinking Environment®.
  • Quality of Attention – including how to give it at the highest level.
  • Importance of Equal Turns.
  • What to ask when the Thinker runs out of ideas.
  • Any other instructions necessary for being a Thinking Partner.
  • Individual and Group issues for these two days (which participants will have been asked to prepare prior to attending).
  • First demonstration of a Thinking Session as a coaching process.
  • Break between parts for questions and discussion about the process.
  • More on the Ten Components® of a Thinking Environment®.
  • Second, third and fourth demonstrations.
  • Questions about the coaching process.
  • Closing rounds.

DAY TWO: 08h00 – 17h30

  • Welcome.
  • Rounds one and two.
  • Challenges, obstacles and assumptions in the way of achieving our individual and team goals.
  • Tutor-coached Thinking Partnership®s.
  • Working with four more components.
  • Practising providing the Ten Components® in the way in which we listen as people speak.
  • Review of the Thinking Partner’s role in the Thinking Session.
  • Teaching the coaching model to each other in pairs.
  • Coached demonstrations in which all participants get to play the role of Thinking Partner and Thinker and receive feedback.
  • Thinking practice requirements between Days One/Two and Days Three/Four.
  • Closing rounds.

DAYS THREE and FOUR: 08h00– 17h30

  • Welcome
  • Rounds – including feedback on practice since Day Two.
  • Practice in between sessions – working with the Thinking Environment®.
  • Learning and recap on experience of applying the Thinking Partnership®.
  • Learning further applications of the Thinking Environment®:

–          The Council – a process that enables a Leader/Manager to think through an issue of importance and share their thinking with the team and receive the feedback from the team who act as Thinking Partners. This application shows individual managers that it is possible to give your experience and any information back to the Leader/Manager without losing sight of the principles of the Thinking Environment® and the Ten Components®.

–          Transforming Meetings – identifying what goes wrong in meetings. Learning how to prepare for, chair and conduct meetings consistent with the Thinking Environment® in a way that enables the most productive, creative and courageous thinking to take place, profound and respectful listening to be maintained, even during the most incendiary debate. The Transforming Meetings process ensures buy-in to the outcomes and decisions from the meeting − all within the necessary time limits. How to use this application to reduce attendance at meetings where it is not necessary, and ensure that those who do attend give their fullest attention and their most creative and effective thinking to the process. The topic for a meeting will be selected by the group, and a chair nominated to run the meeting coached by the facilitator.

–          Diversity – a way of applying the Incisive Question and the Ten Components® so that people and groups are empowered to move beyond limiting assumptions connected to issues of race, gender and other group identities. Working in pairs and as a team to apply the principles of diversity.

–          Timed Talk – how to use the Thinking Environment® to resolve conflict. Work in pairs using timed talks.

  • Reflections and development plans.
  • Closing rounds.

Your Facilitator

SUNNY STOUT-ROSTRON DPROF MA (Professional practice)

Sunny coaches at senior executive and board level, and has a wide range of experience in leadership development and business strategy. With over 20 years’ international experience as an executive coach, Sunny believes there is a strong link between emotional intelligence and business results – she works with executive leaders and their teams to help them achieve individual, team and organisational goals. Sunny is on the Global Faculty for the Thinking Environment® working with Nancy Kline.

Sunny has played a leading role in building the emerging profession of coaching, and her passion is to develop the knowledge base for coaching through research and the critical reflective practice of dedicated practitioners. She has developed a range of international programmes for leaders and business coaches in the corporate, legal and education fields.

She is Executive Director of Sunny Stout-Rostron Associates; Founding President of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa); a Research Advisor at the Institute of Coaching at Harvard/McLean Medical School; and a long-standing member of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC). She completed her doctoral research in Executive Coaching with Middlesex University London, and continues to lecture and supervise coaching research at several graduate schools of business to contribute to the development of executive coaches.

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