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4619 N. Ravenswood Ave., Ste 305
Chicago, IL 60640


We are a multidisciplinary innovation studio working with diverse partners to understand sustainability challenges and identify holistic, resilient solutions, and we are committed to training the next generation of leaders.


Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.

INSIGHT: How Do We Listen?

Peter Nicholson

In Gratitude for Great Questions
We take questions for granted. Properly forged, they have the ability to induce introspection, shift perspectives, and propel change. Still in his early 20s, my friend Z. is an masterful inquirer. The gift comes, I’ve come to realize, not so much from what he asks, but rather from how he listens. His gently disarming questions have a way of putting me in touch with what I didn’t know I had been thinking about it. He patiently and appreciatively absorbs the responses in a way that inspires me to provide answers that are as thoughtful as possible. Innovating systems, the ultimate challenge of achieving greater sustainability, requires better questions and deeper listening. My immediate impulse is always to jump to a solution. His foremost concern always appears to be allowing the space to fully understand what is being said. He has cultivated a talent that should be core to any innovator’s toolkit, but often isn't. My conversations with Z always end the same way, with expressions of mutual gratitude for what was both asked and shared. Our evolution is propelled in many ways, sometimes in something as powerful and commonplace as a conversation between two friends in a busy Starbucks on an otherwise ordinary day.