Strategically Sequencing the Engagement of Great Thinkers

At The Fedcap Group, whenever we are contemplating a new idea to solve a problem, we are deliberate in our approach.

We begin by gathering the most optimistic, creative, positive people both internal and external to the agency. They are invited for their optimism, their confidence that new ideas can work, their belief in all that is possible. We pose a series of clear, bold, and penetrating questions intended to drive new learning and discovery. We spend a lot of time framing the questions. At this phase, we are much less interested in getting to the right answer than we are asking the right questions.

And then we invite these creative thinkers to go at it—building on each other’s ideas and inspired by the idea that we really can change the world. There is little more exciting than a group of positive thinkers who believe in the power of unseen and untested solutions.

Once an idea is formed, we then invite another group of smart, creative people into the room. But this time, we invite people we know to be the pragmatists—the realists—who will argue with us, identify the flaws in our thinking, pose many questions, and who will help us identify the pitfalls and risks we might not have considered in our initial enthusiasm. All too often, people can overestimate the benefit of an idea or a project or a solution, but then underestimate the cost or consequence of whatever it is that we are proposing to do.

The order of invitations matters. I have learned the hard way that you never invite the pragmatists to the first meeting—they will stop the creative flow. And in the second meeting, you need to guard against letting the optimists drown out the voices of those who see legitimate risks.

Good problem-solving needs both. I believe that the strongest organizations possess the internal and external connections to solve important societal problems.

I am lucky in that I work alongside a team of extraordinary thinkers who help me lead and who inspire the best thinking of all of us. Together, I think of us as a team of realistic optimists, knowing that we share one thing in common—a commitment to sustainable and relevant impact and a commitment to the Power of Possible.