The Thinking Model

Working with the 4iforum team has been fabulous. You couldn’t hope to find a more welcoming, supportive and intelligent group of people.

Yet despite all these ‘little-grey-cells’, we often struggle with how to succinctly describe what we do and why it’s important. And I guess that’s OK, as we’re so new that we’re still shiny and smell of our packaging, and we’ve already adjusted our initial business model in light of the changing world.

First up, how do we describe ourselves? We often say that we help leaders think about the questions they haven’t thought of yet. Let’s think about that for a moment… if you’re a business leader, would that be sufficiently enticing to encourage you to give up some of your time to attend a 4iforum session? Probably not.

Next, what’s the benefit of attending 4iforum? Well you come away with more questions, questions that you didn’t know you needed to think about… wait – hang on, that doesn’t feel like a real benefit, most leaders have quite enough on their to-do list, why on earth would they want more things to think about?

Well the premise is that it’s a complete waste of time and energy (and money) resolving these known problems if they are the wrong problems. And they might be wrong because they’re addressing the symptoms rather than the cause, or what’s very likely is that there are some ‘unknown unknowns…’ and goodness, hasn’t Covid been a massive ‘unknown unknown’ for most of us.

Never before has the traditional playbook been so useless.

Which in turn means that all the models we’ve learned and examples we’ve studied will only get us so far. To paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith, “what got you here, won’t get you through this/help you thrive…”

Thinking about thinking

That’s quite simple – The 4i thinking model – yes, yes, it will probably be out of date in a few months as everything turns on its head again, but for now… here it is.

Flawed strategy

We often focus on getting the strategy right, in order to implement the most appropriate actions, BUT, if the thinking is flawed, dated, old-world, (call it what you will), your strategy and everything that flows from it will be just as flawed, dated, etc.

When’s the last time you or your company spent time thinking about your strategy. I’m pretty sure there will have been (in pre-Covid world) management away days, retreats, expensive consultants… and yet, I doubt there has been any such investment in the thinking that is the critical influence on how you develop your strategy, how you respond to challenge, how you react to adversity, etc.

Isn’t that what we all need right now? To take a step back and think about our thinking? To truly challenge ourselves and others in order to make sense of it all and find a constructive way forward?

Ok, so that was by no means succinct… you see the challenge we have? Our thinking model is a great visual reminder, but the people we talk to still need the narrative and explanation.

So here’s a version:

At 4iforum, leaders come together online to think about their thinking, and uncover the hidden problems that jeopardise their strategy, so that they can move forward in times of uncertainty with newly opened eyes and clear focus.

Still sounds a bit nonsensey?!

Yes, I agree. The difficulty is that whenever we describe what we do it feels a bit old-world! Perhaps we should simply say “just come along and be amazed” but that too sounds like marketing flim-flam. One of the team threw some colourful language in there to mix it up, but still, it feels contrived.

So – how do you get someone to come along to an online session, where their ‘seat’ could be sponsored (effectively free), where they contribute what they like to the ‘hat’, and where they can move themselves forward in ways they thought unimaginable, and how do you do it in a way that doesn’t rely on those old ways of thinking….

The challenge

The challenge is that until someone has been to a 4iforum session, they listen and absorb with ‘old-world’ ears… so we need to describe it in that fashion, yet in doing so it feels at odds with everything we stand for… so we’re open to ideas. The old way is that some marketing sage (that’ll be me!) comes up with the definitive explanation… but the new way might be to ask others to collaborate… so I invite you to share your thoughts on what makes 4iforum great.


4iforum is:



And we’ve thrown out the agenda…

Come and find out why these will be the most beneficial hours of your career.



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