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Thinking on Purpose: Outsmarting Evolution

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For eons, evolution has quietly refined one of the most powerful tools ever known — the human brain. Every second of every day, our brains automatically sort, prioritize, and calculate the thousands of inputs that make our world. The result is a constantly changing stream of instantaneous decision-making, snap judgments, and intricate filtering that has allowed our weak and natural-weapons-poor species to thrive in an otherwise harsh environment. For human beings, our brain is our greatest asset, but it can also be our greatest liability.

Unfortunately for modern humans, a naturally-evolved mindset, primarily determined by automatic reactions to their environment and experiences, might not be in their best interest, either personally or professionally. The brain’s "autopilot" qualities that prevented us from being "selected out," as Darwin put it, are the same qualities that can cause hidden biases, knee-jerk reactions, and faulty assumptions when mistakenly or indiscriminately applied. These issues are, in turn, the foundation for poor judgment, repeated mistakes, interpersonal conflicts, and other problems that prevent us from achieving our highest potential.

By leveraging the works of noted experts such as Kahneman, Rock, and Patterson, this workshop will transform the way you think and, more important, how you interact with people in both your professional and personal lives. How we think and frame the world around us has a significant impact on how we get things done, how we interact with others, and perhaps most important, how we deliver value to the organization, our families, and to ourselves.

Although our fast, intuitive thinking capabilities have placed our species at the top of the food chain, this aspect of our “cognitive advantage” also has a dark side — biases or mental shortcuts. With simple but effective metaphors and practical examples, this workshop will open a new appreciation of the extent to which how we think can influence how we cope with today’s fast-paced world and what we can do about it.


Whether you are a functional manager, project manager or general staff member, this workshop will change the way you think, how fast you think, what you pay attention to, and why. How you think is your personal brand (your unique promise of value delivery) on display, whether you like it or not. Learn how to set the pace, not merely maintain the pace, and regain control of the most powerful tool on the planet by thinking on purpose.

During this workshop, you will learn:

  1. How evolution has hardwired your brain to think on autopilot, using mindsets you do not know about to make decisions you do not control
  2. How thinking on autopilot affects your performance results and, ultimately, your professional impact, as corroborated in the works of noted industry thought leaders as Kahneman, Rock, and Patterson
  3. How to identify and navigate around the “mindfields” of biases, emotions, and habits that cause these problems
  4. A five-step Thinking on Purpose process that can help you take control of your thinking by learning when to “reset” as opposed to “repeat”
  5. A set of tools and techniques that can help you structure your thinking for better clarity and creativity.
  6. How to transform your team by helping them learn to think on purpose and create the mindset that there is no problem or adversity they cannot solve.
  7. How to articulate a new and improved version of yourself in how you put curiosity before judgment when dealing with everyday process and people challenges
  8. How to use the TEAM approach to help others regain control of their thinking



This course is primarily targeted at employees at all levels throughout an organization who are interested in improving their overall effectiveness.


There is no prerequisite for this course. It functions as a stand-alone course.


You will receive a course binder containing copies of presentation slides and handouts, plus a copy of the award-winning book Thinking on Purpose for Project Managers: Outsmarting Evolution by Bill Richardson.


Introduction and Context

  • Evolution and evolutionary psychology.
  • How we are wired—meet Otto Pilot.
  • Conscious thinking as opposed to subconscious thinking.
  • Snowman Model—mindset, skill set, tool set.
  • Mindfields and Mind Games: When Good Traits Go Bad.


Acknowledge Thinking Fast and Slow

  • Kahneman’s System 1 and System 2.
  • Patterson’s Path to Action.
  • Rock’s SCARF Model.
  • Choosing your mindset—The absence of choice is still a choice.


Mobilize Around a Five-Step Process

  • Process:
    • Qualify the Input.
    • Frame the Purpose.
    • Sweep for Mindfields.
    • Structure Your Thinking.
    • Validate the Outcome.
  • Practical application:
    • To participant situations.
    • Examples from Thinking on Purpose book.


Learn How to Have F.U.N with Thinking

  • Power of the right question.
  • Thinking Process Flow—SA, PS, DM, AP.
  • F.U.N Model:
    • Frame the situation.
    • Unpack the issues.
    • Navigate the process.
  • Using the TOP Thinking Toolkit.
  • Practical application:
    • To participant situations.
    • Examples from the Thinking on Purpose book.


Making Thinking on Purpose (TOP) a TEAM Game

  • Concept:
    • Teach It.
    • Expect It.
    • Anchor It.
    • Model It.
  • Suggested application of the job aid and templates.


Recap and Next Steps

  • Progress reporting on personal objectives and challenges.
  • Post workshop reinforcement game plans.
  • Recommended additional reading from the Thinking on Purpose book.

course info

Course ID: PX-4101
Course Level: Intermediate
Duration: 1 day

upcoming sessions

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PMI Talent TriangleThe following table provides the breakdown of the professional development units (PDUs) for this course aligned with the PMI Talent TriangleTM.

  Tech. Ldrshp. Strat. & Bus.
PMP 0 7 0
PgMP 0 7 0
PfMP 0 7 0
PMI-ACP 0 7 0
PMI-SP 0 7 0
PMI-RMP 0 7 0
PMI-PBA 0 7 0

The three columns in the above table are Technical Project Management, Leadership, and Strategic & Business Management.

Other Credits

Other professional (re)certification credits are available, including:

  • Certified Business Analyst Professionals (CBAPs) earn 7CDUs (Category 2B)
  • Certified Software Quality Engineers (CSQEs) earn 1 RU
  • CIPS Information Systems Professionals (ISPs) earn 7 Learning Credits
  • CIPS Information Technology Certified Professional (ITCPs) earn 7 Learning Credits