How to Solve Problems

Here at Fedcap, we solve problems for a living. Every day, every person who works in one of the agencies of the Fedcap Group strives to solve some of the biggest problems in our society: eliminating barriers to economic well-being. We do it by serving individuals and by influencing whole systems through a variety of lenses. This mission is the backdrop for every decision we make and every action we take. And every day, we are making a difference for the hundreds of thousands of people we touch.

Every decision we make in service to our work must be deliberately and thoroughly vetted.  We need brilliant thinkers working at full-throttle to come up with innovative and as-yet untried ideas that we can test, revise, and implement, and which, ultimately, will influence the lives of the individuals we serve and the systems we influence.

The quality of the work we do depends on the quality of our thinking. If our thinking and our decision making is uniformed or distorted, then the solutions we create will be shoddy in equal measure to the thinking—or lack of same—that went into it.

Excellence in thought about any problem we are attempting to solve—from improving an internal process to tackling a societal issue as complex as poverty—is a deliberate and well-calculated activity that we systematically cultivate throughout our organization. For every interview for a new hire, every meeting, every presentation, every discussion, we require structured thinking and high standards of reason and rationale.

As a leader, I want my thinking to be consistently challenged. I want to be questioned with clear and precise arguments. I don’t want to indulge logical fallacies, such as “reason” based on emotion or vagueness or even on personal experience unless that experience has best evidence research as proof behind it. I expect every employee at every level to perform with well-reasoned thought that has been tested against the highest standards and criteria. And I expect everyone to impose the discipline and monitoring it takes to test their own thinking so I don’t have to.

It is only by calling on the highest standards of thinking that we will be able to solve the problems we strive to solve.  And it is only by clearly and explicitly outlining those standards and criteria that we can then apply best thinking and execute actions that will lead to success.

How do you ensure that those you work with are employing the best and highest thinking when working to solve problems?