In this article, Michael Fletcher Consultant at Whitecap Consulting, reflects on his experience navigating a dynamic and fast-paced career at Whitecap Consulting, and shares a few principles for quickly and confidently developing new ideas under pressure.

Whether you are starting your career, or are a seasoned veteran, most of our time is spent learning; either wrapping our heads around ideas completely new to us or learning more about topics we are already well-versed in. Whilst this might not sound particularly glamorous, developing our ideas and knowledge can be rather credibly argued as one of the greatest drivers of joy and achievement in our professional lives.

With that in mind, I have found that the process of shaping new ideas can be any mixture of pleasant and painful. However, whilst some of the factors determining this ratio are out of our control, for example working under pressure or to a deadline, much of it is self-inflicted through our attempts to defend the ideas we worked so hard to shape and feeling the need to tackle new and complex problems alone.

So, in pursuit of maximising the pleasure and minimising the pain involved with shaping new ideas quickly, I share a few principles worth considering below.


We are not our ideas, be willing to break them down and even throw them away entirely.

As true for anyone as it is for professional sportspeople, defining ourselves by our ideas and performance can make us defensive and rigid and draw a great deal of enjoyment out of what we do; especially when put under pressure, where we should strive to feel most comfortable.

We take a lot of pride in being ‘in the know’, and why shouldn’t we – often it’s the result of hard-won insight and diligent application. Now, whilst buttressing our own views and achievements certainly has its place, when seeking to effectively learn and refine our ideas – it often gets in the way.

Reminding ourselves that our ideas and outputs are a function of slowly and consistently improving the machine that produces them (us!), we can be much more open about putting them under rigorous testing, critical reflection and opening them up to others for critique.


‘Keep it simple stupid’, digest complexity and don’t avoid it.

Originally used by the U.S. Navy as a design principle to avoid unnecessary complexity, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ (or KISS for short) should be a welcome mantra for learners everywhere. Overcomplication is a regular pitfall when tackling new ideas and is often exacerbated when doing so collaboratively.

Whilst the intended aim of this phrase was to avoid complexity, it is in fact everywhere and much of it is unavoidable. This was brought to life nicely by Neil deGrasse Tyson, a popular astrophysicist from the U.S., who said

the universe is under no obligation to make sense to us”.

Thus, unlike its intended use, the KISS principle should not be used as an excuse to avoid complexity but act as a method of digesting it, both individually and as a mechanic of discussing ideas with others.

Cutting through the noise to focus on simple truths or principles is at the centre of the world of business strategy, something we do internally and alongside clients on a regular basis. In short, it works… So, keep this one in mind next time you’re puzzled, or going in circles trying to explain something to a colleague.


Collaborate for fresh perspectives.

A common mistake I have observed is feeling the need to develop and stress-test these ideas on our own, where we risk losing the ever-attractive but elusive ‘fresh perspective’ and getting lost in the detail. By no means do I suggest we cannot shape ideas independently, I do however suggest that there is always a role of a critical and supportive sounding board. Ideas and learnings are best tested aloud and keeping the two previous principles in mind whilst doing so will help make developing our ideas easier and, quite frankly, more enjoyable.


The key principles

In summary, being able to pick up and shape new ideas quickly, critically and collaboratively is a skill that is deeply important for meeting rapid change with the right dose of flexibility and robustness and to be confident in our own decision-making.

So, keep in mind the following principles to make your next opportunity to shape a complex idea under pressure a bit less painful:

  • You are not your ideas.
  • Keep It Simple Stupid.
  • Think aloud.



At Whitecap, we use these concepts regularly to improve our services and are always looking for opportunities to showcase how they can be used to tackle problems quickly, painlessly and collaboratively. In the case you are looking for a team of open minded and supportive sounding boards, with extensive experience in tackling complex problems, particularly if it is a business idea or issue you are wrestling, we at Whitecap are here to help. Connect with Micheal