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From heart to heart - morning sharings as a connecting exercise

Starting the day with what really matters - human connection and true expression - frees up the mind to be creative and present for the day

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When we observe people actively engaging in a very open and human way, we see greater energy, kindness and a way to treat each other that authentically says"you matter”. 

It is no longer necessary to do that empirically or out of intuition: The Thinking Environment (Kline, 1999) offers us a robust methodology to create connection in 1-2-1conversations or full groups.

A ThinkingEnvironment is created when the Ten Components, or behaviors, are held in place by a person who explicitly observes simple principles like no interruption or distraction, and offers generative attention to one another. One component in place is already a plus, but it is the interplay of all ten that creates a solid container in which people feel really valued and appreciated for who they are. It seems that an environment free of judgment and expectation can really liberate the human mind. The components are attention, appreciation, ease, encouragement, diversity, information, feelings, equality, place and Incisive Questions (Source:  

We were already experienced facilitators using different methods for awareness based change when we came across Nancy Kline's work. The Thinking Environment manifests the simplicity that is found on the far side of complexity. It offers the workframe conditions in which people give the best of themselves - with what they really think and feel - that they normally find it difficult to express in other environments, especially in the workplace.

A clear process is offered by the Thinking Environment to create structures and routines for meetings, mentoring or solving problems based on people's wisdom, instead of advice. The process we find most valuable for inserting and sustaining a culture of gratitude is the Thinking Pairs, a structure that makes people incredibly interested in another’s person thinking in a very positive way.

The results of the process is subtle but powerful as we have been hearing in the feedbacks of our trainings and workshops. The practice is accompanied by journalling at the end of the day and complementary practices for a 52 weeks gratitude program, should the employee like to follow a more systematic approach to built up his/her gratitude muscles.

The whole process can be introduced together with a “shifts tracker” tool(identified, for the user, but anonymous for the company or organization) that collects information on different indicators so that the person can reflect daily and/or weekly on how that practice has been impacting their well being, what they have seen as results in their interpersonal relationships, their own health and moods, their ability to be creative and perform at work and her connection to self, others and the world.

Outcomes of these Thinking Pairs conversations can be collected on gratitude boxes, in which participants write on a note whom they are grateful to, and what for and at the end of the month, people gather to read what’s in the box and crystallized on a gratitude map that tracks the flow of consequences and impacts that one positive act has generated - showing interdependence and the chain of events that happen after an act of kindness at work. New maps can be displayed and celebrated, periodically.

The whole program has thus 4 components:

- Morning Practice: a periodical morning practice of 10 minutes in pairs with another work colleague ( pairs could rotate every week in large companies, so that at the end of the year, people have experienced 52 partners; or every month in smaller organizations - practices could be held daily, 2 or 3 times a week, weekly, or bi-weekly; in person and/or online or by phone), guided by a question, for example “How are you experiencing gratitude in your life today?”.

- Journaling and complementary practices to build gratitude muscles on a 52 weeks program (see above)

- Shift Tracker to track down changes in 4 domains: interpersonal; own well being; quality of actions at work; perception of connectedness.

- Collective outputs and celebration - through the gratitude box and Gratitude Chain Map.

Idea Title

From heart to heart

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

People want to be seen, valued and cared for who they are, not just what they do. Even in a hierarchical culture, the ability to treat people equally as a thinker brings ease regardless of people's performance on a particular position or project. It inspires a culture of improvement, where people want to be at their best and are brave to say and recognize when they aren't - and ask for help. Keeping up the Thinking Pairs practice will enhance human connection and a culture where people learn to think for themselves, because they think as themselves. Expressing gratitude is a natural side effect of this interpersonal process.

Who are you innovating for?

Organizations that will see better results, healthier and happier employees and an increased social network of collaborative peers. Their families will also benefit from it.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

All organizations with teams seeking for a more humanized and resilient workplace. We can implement the process in small (10 employees), medium and big companies (more than 1000 employees) with different scaling strategies and timeframes. 

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

Intensive 1-day trainings with teams including the leader and 6-12 team members of volunteers interested in this practice. They will learn the basic Thinking Environment applications: Thinking Rounds, Thinking Pairs, Dialogue, Transforming Meetings,  Time to Think Council.  Selection of a care taker that will support people to keep up their daily practice in 10 minutes Thinking Pairs every morning and the use of the “shift tracker" tool (coaching without a coach). Introdution of gratitude boxes and the gratitude map.  Identify champions that fall in love with the practice and can start being multipliers. Follow up process with mentoring individually and as a group - at a volunteer basis

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

Sustaining a new habit needs inner strength, consistency and the willingness to be vulnerable, make mistakes and do better. In an organizational culture of shaming and competition, this practice will take a longer implementation culture, as trust needs to be fully present before people can open up, so they would end up only going halfway, which is natural and a part of the process. Leaders need to be onboard and organizational structures need to support this practice.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

Start with two or three teams of 6-12 members in different organizations. Run the full process as described before for a period of 12 weeks with regular follow up sessions. Follow up on learnings (what went well, what needs changing) and expand it for a period of 52 weeks for the entire company. 

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

- Identify leaders and teams that are keen to participate in the prototype voluntarily - Interview a sample of people in order to generate inputs for an authentic program - Run the first 2-3 trainings and introduce the 12 weeks program There is a considerable amount of data that could arise from this initiative, due to the use of a shift tracker tool. If more organizations run paralell programs, there will be comparable data indicating what variables work best according to each organization.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

It emerged from collaborations and discussions as fellow practitioners in Thinking Environment and Organizational Change.

Tell us about yourself

We are two Brazilian facilitators and consultants that work in Brazil and abroad helping groups and individuals in businesses, governments, NGOs, international organizations and academy to have meaningful conversations that take them to the next level of their leadership.

Where are you / your team located?

Ana lives in Curitiba (Brazil) Barbara lives in São Paulo (Brazil) and Wageningen (Netherlands)

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Our legally registered entities are LLCs (we each own our own company), registered in Brazil. We haven’t yet decide if this project is a join-venture.

Company / Organization Name

Munzner, Registered as Virtus Desenvolvimento Integral Ltda.-ME  Ecosynergy, Registered as Solbar Green Prestação de Serviços Ltda.


Tell us about your experience

Ana Münzner is a facilitator, coach, and organizational change consultant. She has experience working in Germany, Zambia and Brazil and has been focusing on the Thinking Environment in the last 3 years. Barbara Oliveira is a host of meaningful conversations and facilitator of social change processes, a conflict transformation mediator, and strategic negotiator, and a Master coach. Barbara is passionate about human connection and multistakeholder participatory approaches.


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