I am grateful to the participant in this morning’s climate coaching call who reminded me of the power of asking the opposite question to the one you are trying to answer. Instead of asking what’s the most effective thing he could to tackle the climate crisis, he asked what’s the least he could do. Sometimes it is much easier to define what we shouldn’t be doing than what we should. But from this point of opposition we can get some clues about what we should in fact be doing.

Asking the opposite is one of the techniques I suggest people use when trying to find new ideas. It’s an example of ‘Turning the Kalideascope‘, helping us to form new connections between existing things we know in order to form new connections.

To be as ineffective as possible in the climate crisis I might:

  • Dive straight in and just starting doing something*
  • Prioritise action over impact
  • Make sure you avoid the difficult questions
  • Be generally vague in your ambitions
  • Make no time for reflection
  • Obsess about refining a model rather than looking for broadly the right answer
  • Just carry on doing what I have always done

All of a sudden, working out what I should be doing feels much easier.

*The inspiration from some of these worst answers comes from talking to Bengt Cousins-Jenvey about what the best sort of responses might look like. So they are a kind of double negative. Bengt is co-founder of Type Four Projects and is co-designing and delivering ‘Training on what to do after declaring a Climate Emergency’, and always asks very insightful questions. My favourite of his is ‘what can I do to save a million tonnes of carbon’, as we discuss in our podcast discussion together.