Report: What is nationality? Dec 2014

Nationality … what matters to you and why? How can we make it work for us?nationality Post Scottish referendum and with serious ongoing challenges in Ukraine, Syria and Palestine to name but a few, in this Thinking Tank we took an open minded, open hearted and challenging look at the concept of nationality and its value and price in modern society.

Maybe you are a Scot disappointed at the recent referendum. Or a New Zealander wondering about your new flag. Maybe you no longer identify with what your nation is doing, or maybe you have moved around the world and don’t quite belong where you are or where you used to be.

Read the report and find out what we concluded together about the risks and rewards of nationality and why we should be taking a more conscious stance. The Thinking Tank Report Nationality 1412   Dive into the Thinking Tank today to share your insights and consider those of the diverse group of participants we have come to expect. for a short while today think freely about something that affects us all and let’s see where we can get together.You can share your views in advance on twitter #ttt.

Report: Mind the Generation Gaps

Generation Gaps: we always knew about the teenager / parents one but as we live longer and change faster how many more are opening up? Click here to see the report Thinking Tank – Generation Gaps

generation 1408s
From centenarians to baby boomers to millennials* – and whatever comes next – we have grown up with different needs and priorities. Eco-warrior or conscientious objector? Rationing or hedonism? Facebook or telegrams? It’s little wonder we don’t always see eye to eye.
In this Thinking Tank report we examine generation gaps. How can we live with them? Or even  turn them to our advantage? What examples have you come across where the outcome is richer and more relevant because of intergenerational involvement?
If you belong to a generation*, or you know someone who does, if you’ve ever wondered what on earth your teenage kids or elderly boss are talking about, then bring your thoughts and get some new ones. You might even change your mind about something.

* if you’re not sure which generation you are in, you can find out here

Click to see the report
     1408 cover
     Catherine Shovlin, Founder, The Thinking Tank

Report: Engaging Employees

According to recent research, If the average workforce were a basketball team, 2 people in the team would be trying to score, 2 would be actively sabotaging and the rest would just be standing around. Which of these are you? How does this lack of engagement or sense of purpose at work affect us and our teams? At what cost not just to the economy but to human spirit and wellbeing?

Read our short report and get thinking

report engagement 1406


Report: Ethics of Banking

First off, it’s a shame we didn’t have more participants from the finance sector. Although they were 50% of the invitees. they were only 10% of the participants. Too scary? Come on bankers be braver next time. We considered over 150 ideas and opinions – here are the ones that got more than 70% support from the group

We call this the espresso report – the top responses.


  • Guess that the Anglo Saxon model of laissez-faire in financial institutions comes to an end in the near future / hopefully!
  • I am not sure if the laissez-faire model will come to an end. There are too many lobbyists in politics for that to happen.
  • Finance nowadays is far more than lending money. It’s an ex-territorial business of smart mathematicians who have no real ethics in mind.
  • Not only in politics but more simply bankers and their lobbyists directly or indirectly influencing the politicians
  • I feel the relationship between banks and clients has changed. It is no longer a supplier-customer relationship, customers have become somewhat dependent on their bank (unless you have loads of money) and banks pretend as if you should be happy they let you be a customer
  • It doesn’t help when the politicians are also the guys with lots of money – they have too much vested interest in preserving the status quo


  • Did they ever accept responsibility and announce they would reform? It’s the arrogance that makes me want to blame them more
  • I scored totally because the real economy does not count any more, what counts are the financial games played to move richness in the hands of the few playing the game
  • It’s an interesting example of moral failure. Probably most of them didn’t actively decide to do harm, but they ignored the signs and hid from personal responsibility
  • nobody in charge really wanted to stop the rat race/ greed competition that took place and still is
  • Indeed, financial authorities have failed completely in all countries in the Western world.  Not in a single country they were able to make a significant difference
  • I am not even sure that the large  majority understood the risks associated with these new products/ derivatives
  • What shocks me is the attitude. Like it was just a big game or a joke. They seem very removed from the reality of the consequences of their behaviour


  • Can’t see a pro from an ethical point of view.
  • Con. When someone shows they can’t be trusted and they have immense influence / power, why would you choose to carry on letting them do what they like?
  • Con. They cannot be allowed to persist in the view that the little people are irrelevant. That they can sit in their marble palaces and play with real lives. They need governance

Read the report

NG banking




Pirates! Oct 18th, 2012

On Oct 18 we had conversations at two time slots to consider our relationship with piracy in 2012. Over 300 ideas and opinions were put forward and considered by the group with some key themes emerging.


Download the more detailed report here: (coming soon)


These are the top statements that I tweeted immediately following the event (#tttpiracy):

Strongest statement (both groups)

  • Artists have a right to get money for what they produce

And conversely, the most opposed statement was

  • I think all music should be free for everybody

Other strong statements

In favour of piracy:

  • No major jail time for downloading or distributing music/ movies/ media

Anti middle men

  • I’d feel better about buying more music if I knew the money was going straight to the artist


  • On download sites they could put banners “why not get the legal version for $2?”
  • Micropayments… –> Bitcoin to the rescue!!!!!!
  • I would find it a lot easier to do the decent thing” [with pop up micropayments]
  • it is not about restoring the old market forces, but finding new ways for new channels to generate income to artists


Olympian values: RESULTS

As we neared the 2012 Olympics the Thinking Tank examined what the concept of Olympian has to do with those of us not participating. We considered the 3 Olympic values of respect, friendship and excellence.


Right after the discussion we tweet the top comments. Here they are:

Click on image

  • top tip for : fight against corruption more obviously
  • top tip for : give prizes beyond the competitions to the athletes with the “best” behaviour
  • Enjoy the games as much as possible, and celebrate successes
  • Friendship is important to make the world a ‘better’ place and is indeed based upon respect
  • the major world problems we have are conflicts, and respect for others is a panacea for conflict
  • [we need to increase] respect: for different people in different situations, having a open view
  • Athletes train a lifetime to excel in their disciplines and inspire many around the world as role models

Latte report

Afternoon Tea Report

Read everything here

Join us online, 4pm UK time, Jul 19 and let’s see how Olympian we are. Meanwhile tweet your views #tttolympian

So how might we apply Olympian values to other aspects of our lives? The Olympic Museum website describes the Olympic approach as:

A life philosophy — Promotion of three core values : excellence, friendship and respect.
  • According to Kimon Valskakis, Professor of Economics at the University of Montreal, Olympian philosophy is a good basis for moral capitalism.
  • Find out here which of the 12 Olympian gods/goddesses you are most like

On July 19th from 4pm (UK time, for 45 mins) we will be discussing if and how the Olympian tradition fits with our own lives.

Join us online, 4pm UK time, Jul 19 and let’s see how Olympian we are. Meanwhile tweet your views #tttolympian

Eventbrite - Thinking Tank debate: Are you Olympian?

Results: the passing of time

On Jan 26 we paused for thought to consider our relationship with time. We were joined by Old Father Time who posed some challenging questions. Quotes below got majority support from the group. Those in bold were top 10 statements. Read the full list here Thinking Tank Time or read the summary below

Short of time?

Many of us were aware of a time squeeze.

  • chasing my tail trying to get what has to get done today done – thinking about this afternoon as opposed to time in the context of broader lifespan

While others seemed to have more of a balance

  • Time is like a rhythm. I am invigorated by sometimes racing through tasks and doing a lot, other times by sitting in silence watching the water. I like the changes in pace
  • I love wasting time once in a while.. just hang out, drink a glass, watch a stupid film on tv.. It gives me peace

So we had some advice on making better use of time

  • I try to make sure there’s some time-freedom in amongst a usually time-bound week
  • Those with life threatening illnesses talk positively about their better relationship with time and making good use of it

How much time do you want?

Old Father Time offered us a hypothetical choice of how long we wanted the rest of our life to last for. Choices varied from 10 to 1000 years but the majority plumped for about a century.Aside from wanting to be healthy during this time there were only two strongly shared views on the reason for wanting more time:

  • [I would spend it ] enjoying it and giving it sense
  • Time to have several lives /careers

Time for a change?

In closing we considered any learnings from the discussion. There was certainly more consideration of time, and an intention to be more conscious.

  • I think we are not enough in touch with time, the present. How could it be is we feel we are chasing all the time, needing to prioritise constantly.  A greater connection with the moment should educate us to have a better relationship with time.
  • [we can consider] high value uses of time and low value uses of time … looked at and determined by contribution, progress, impact on quality of life

Click here to join our next debate on Feb 23. 4pm (UK time) where we will be discussing the future of capitalism. Bring your bonus, your politics, your resentments and your ideas!

Modern Rituals. 22 Dec 2011

In the December 2011 Thinking Tank we considered rituals and their role in modern society. Some of the discussion focused on Christmas preparations but we also considered marriage, funerals and other rituals. There was some dissent over what was a ritual and what was just a habit, but in general a triumph of personal meaning over social conformity. Just over 100 ideas were proposed and considered by the group. Here is a summary of what was shared

Espresso Summary: Top 5 (the most supported comments)

  • You don’t need “official” rituals to have rituals of your own – different and at different periods of the year
  • Rituals are fine as long as they can be somewhat “tempered” otherwise they could be quite boring
  • Christmas feels like a big task. Not just the work involved (wrapping presents, preparing food etc) but also the ritualistic ways people behave at this time of year
  • Christmas is too commercial
  • Rituals don’t work when they too superficial – no time and no space to really pay attention to people

Latte Summary: when you have a bit more time


General view is that they can – and should – be personalised to increase their meaning

  • You don’t need “official” rituals to have rituals of your own – different and at different periods of the year
  • Rituals are fine as long as they can be somewhat “tempered” otherwise they could be quite boring
  • Some of the old rituals appears as not mine, others are new and very welcome

There were less supported comments about the specifics of Christmas preparations – carols and family and gifts and food.


Benefits of rituals were contemplative: a time for reflection, pause for thought.  rather than anything to do with pomp and circumstance.

  • The positive side is that it creates space for family time, that it creates moments in the family history
  • Is almost a way to learn myself better, getting a deeper insight into myself
  • My marriage: although I don’t believe in God, I enjoyed the ritual.
  • a time to share

Opinion was divided on more mundane rituals – these comments became Synthetrons but also attracted negative scoring.

  • arriving home. Not just shuffling in and getting straight into the jobs but taking a moment to arrive, greet each other, be present
  • Having a cold shower after a family struggle – you are immediately nourished by fresh energy
  • The checkin and checkout of meetings: To get a sense of the feelings that are in the room, to see the development of the meeting, to get a closer feeling to what happens


There are potential downsides to rituals that the group were aware of, mostly around coercion and falseness:

  • when a ritual is felt more as a constraint rather than an event to look forward to
  • When the ritual itself becomes more important than its original intention
  • When everyone pretends

The group agreed on some strategies to avoid these risks

  • rituals must be considered as occasions – not obligations
  • Distinguish between personal rituals and traditional rituals. Maybe knowing our own reason for participating makes a difference too. It’s not the ritual that has meaning in itself, it is we who choose to bring it meaning (or just go through the emotions)


Ah. Let’s hope that we can all remember these wise words in our hearts during the Christmas and other seasonal festivities

  • a ritual that encourages me to think of the rhythm of life, the tides, the seasons, the births and deaths. Get a sense of perspective and stop obsessing about my own trivia
  • a ritual that encourages us to look within hearts and also at our global connectedness
  • A trueness-ritual … perhaps … like this: If I was born in Ohio, now i would be this, if i was born in Kabul, now i would be this, if I was born in ….
  • A ritual that includes time for deep reflection in a safe environment
  • pause to think about the meaning of what we do
  • It’s not about the stuff – or the stuffing! It’s about the meaning. I can choose for it to be meaningful or I can choose for it to be a chore. Right now I am hoping to have the presence of mind to choose meaningful.
  • Relax, be authentic, thoughtful of others

Full Summary

Click on this pdf file to see all the comments 1112 Rituals full report

Prosperity debate 20.10.11

As the euro wobbles and personal and national debts mount around the world, we took a moment approaching Diwali to debate prosperity. Which involved into a debate around prosperity and scarcity – the yin and yang of creativity and progress according to the group.

Here are some highlights of what they said (statements in italics are verbatim, those in bold were supported by at least 70%):

Prosperity is a broad concept

  • My definition of prosperity is much broader than when I was in my 20s. The sun is shining, I am learning new things

Also mentioned: freedom,. education, family, sharing, mentors, work hard play hard. Seen by some as a privilege, a luxury for some people in some countries, not broadly available to all.

Prosperity is desirable and allows progress / evolution

  • Your kids are learning a lot of things that you had no chance to… (thanks to increased prosperity)
  • if all my energy goes into finding the next meal, when is the moment of brilliance going to emerge?

Prosperity also comes with risks

  • risk: smugness, complacency, stagnation
  • Risk to forget about the less fortunate

Though a smaller group disagreed with this view

  • At systemic level I disagree about complacency …. there is always a push from the bottom …. if you get complacent you stop growing …. others will ….

Prosperity and Scarcity

  • Scarcity creates some urgency in solving problems. So a good driver. But I think it leads us to focus on the basics so no good for human evolution
  • I like the occasional bit of scarcity eg a 2 hour power cut, a day when the shops are closed. It leaves me joyful when it is over
  • Plenty of budget makes us unimaginative, plenty of time makes me lazy
  • At the begining, need / scarcity motivates change, creativity …. then without a bit of prosperity you get stuck

Prosperity can be nurtured

The greatest levels of agreement were around ways to encourage prosperity

    • Continue to give freedom to women
    • Invest in clean and cheap energy (we are not there yet!)
    • Teach prosperity in schools (an inclusive view of prosperity which includes social capital, beauty, creativity, caring as well as financial security)
    • Continue to reduce trade barriers (e.g. CAP policy in Europe, fran subsidies in the US)
    • Continue to try to remove dictators …. (e.g. good news today about Gaddafi!)
    • Continue to educate all people
    • Nobody needs more than ten years living expenses. So increase your prosperity by sharing your wealth (or skills)


Results from 21.07.2011 debate. The Murdoch Effect.


Power corrupts: we must all be vigilant and selective.

  • We need to get our information from different sources , always to balance and weigh  whatever comes our way

Watchwords: Governance, ownership, checks and balances, avoid concentration of power

  • In Latin America we also see a similar phenomenon with the media companies and their power

The clean up process: ugly but welcome

  • Personally I thought that anyway so I am glad that it has been exposed like this. There are many honourable police officers but also systemic corruption that needs to be rooted out.
We are all part of the problem or part of the solution
  • Good reminder that we all make many choices each day. Sometimes the choice is to do what’s convenient or to do what is right.. If we go with convenient we are each part of the problem.


Click on the pdf file to see the full list of synthetrons ordered by topic 1107 Murdoch Effect full report

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