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What is Thinkfulness?

Thinkfulness is a strikingly simple concept: consciously adopting a structured approach to thinking in order to understand and change the world. It is based on the idea of using a 7-step structured approach to thinking. This means that instead of just casually thinking, you have a process – a repeatable, dependable, proven process of thinking. Deploying this process leads you to a much more robust understanding. But it also makes you a pro in thinking. You’re no longer just someone who may get a good idea by chance or find the right solution by trial and error. You’re equipped with a step-by-step approach that you can rely on to produce solid results. That’s how you become a high performing thinker. 



Thinkfulness maximises understanding. The 7-step structured approach will give you a much better chance to optimise how you understand and, in consequence, you’ll be able to deal with everything that you’re facing much better. Thinkfulness gives you a better understanding so that your actions are as effective as possible.



Thinkfulness is based on the idea of using a structured approach to thinking. One of the best habits you can develop to become a better thinker is to adopt this structured approach and apply it every time you have to solve a problem, make a decision, choose, or do anything to change the world. This approach is supported by six thinkfulness habits.



Thinkfulness is adopted consciously – you decide to be thinkful, work on developing your thinking skills, and learn to apply thinkfulness as often as you can. Over time, with deliberate thinking practice, being thinkful becomes more  effortless. But it still remains an attitude that you need to consciously adopt, opt in on, and continuously practise.

The 7-step approach

  • 1. Clearly identify and write down the problem statement

    The critical error we make all too often when we have to think is that we just jump right into thinking without defining the core issue.

    Any problem, question, decision, choice – normally we just get going with thinking it through. We want to get to answers and solutions quickly, that’s why we do it. But without a clear definition of the problem statement, instead we just waffle about in our minds, and more often than not we end up tired, confused, and nowhere near a solution. The best problem statements are formulated as questions that are short, in plain language, and don’t have additional parts or sub-questions. After you’ve formulated your problem statement, write it down – if you don’t, it’s as if you were trying to solve a differential equation in your head.

  • 2. Define the outcome you want from the process

    Most of the time, when faced with issues, situations, problems, we just think and hope that something will come out of it.

    We don’t reflect on or decide upon what this ‘something’ is supposed to be. This is a bit like getting into a car to drive somewhere without defining the destination – sure, it’s fun to do sometimes, but in most cases we need to get to a specific place. So define your specific place, the outcome of the thinking process. Do you want to make a decision? Choose between options? Evaluate? Solve a problem? Invent? Come up with a new idea? Draw conclusions? Write your desired outcome down and put a timeframe on it.

  • 3. Select the right thinking style and apply its principles

    Now that you have a clear problem statement and a defined outcome, you have to choose the right thinking style to think the issue through.

    Throughout Lessons in Thinkfulness, I’ll introduce you to a whole range of tried-and-tested thinking styles together with explanations what problems they work best with and how to apply them. By applying the right thinking style and its principles, you’ll be able to work through the issue in a systematic manner. Of course, you’ll be making notes throughout the process.

  • 4. Consider applying another thinking style

    After you’ve worked on your issue using the first thinking style, think if you should go for an alternative approach.

    This is recommended if: you’re unsure if your first choice of the thinking style was right, you still can’t put forward an outcome statement, you’re not convinced of your own argumentation, you need a different perspective. If you apply another thinking style, make sure you compare the results and draw conclusions from your synthesis.

  • 5. Write down a clear outcome statement with supporting argumentation

    Think about this step as if you were an advisor or a consultant speaking to a client.

    Put forward a recommendation with a solid, explainable basis built on top of a thorough analysis you’ve just conducted. The outcome statement has to be clear, unambiguous, actionable, and supported with arguments drawn from your thinking process.

  • 6. Implement the outcome statement

    Now this is where all the doers rejoice!

    After you’ve written down your outcome statement and you’re convinced of its strength and validity (if you aren’t, go back to step 4), you have to implement the recommendation. Make that decision, take that choice, solve that problem – now you know you’ve really understood it, thought it through in the best way possible, and you should act.

  • 7. Evaluate results

    But of course we know that any move we make can lead to very different results.

    This is why you need to evaluate what happened in response to your action and reflect on the thinking process that led to it. In many cases, you’ll be reflecting on successes and wins – then you’ll be able to understand how you arrived at them and reinforce good practices. But sometimes you’ll have to own up to mistakes and errors – learn from them and improve how you think.


SIX habits

Now that you know the basic tenets of thinkfulness and you’ve been introduced to the 7-step structured approach, you need to implement the right habits to make you more thinkful on the day-to-day basis.

Start implementing the thinkfulness habits one by one. Once this habit has taken roots, add scheduling thinking slots in week two, and so on. This way you’ll systematically build up your thinkfulness habits.

To-think list


On any given day, you're bombarded with choices, decisions, thoughts, and ideas. Don't deal with them as they appear. Instead, jot them down on a to-think list and return to them in thinkfulness slots.



Book time in your calendar and label it as thinkfulness slots. Make these commitments fixed and repeated. In the slots, work through the to-think list using the 7-step structured approach.



Use triggers to get you started on serious thinking. Develop a practice or a ritual that eases you into thinkfulness in your scheduled thinkfulness slots to get your thinking engine started.



Implement the 7-step structured approach how you think things through. Don't approach problems and questions randomly, rely on a tried and tested structure.



Keep a journal during your thinkfulness slots to write what you're thinking about, how you're going about the process, which thinking style you're using, and what the outcome is.



Evaluate the results of your thinking, but also how you develop your habits. Don't stop practising, learning and improving. As with all skills, the moment you stop growing, you start losing it.


Weekly lessons in thinkfulness

Receive free, weekly lessons designed to help you become more thinkful at work, in business and in life.

Let’s start a thinkfulness revolution in a world that desperately needs high performing thinkers!