FourSight comes to Thanksgiving

For me, Thanksgiving used to feel like a command performance. As a mom who prefers to implement, I considered it my job to land the turkey, potatoes, yams, hams, beans, rolls, cranberry sauce, and gravy on the table, hot and delicious, in front of a dozen expectant family members, in record time. Pretty soon, a holiday that was supposed to be about thanks, gratitude, and family, had me overrun with stress, tension, and self-criticism.

There had to be a better way.

Then I had an idea. Why not apply a little FourSight to the problem? Our three kids were teenagers, capable enough in the kitchen. Who said I was responsible for the whole meal? Why not make this a collaborative problem-solving challenge? I promptly put Isabel in charge of the pies and yams, Cole in charge of the beans and rolls, and Becca in charge of mashed potatoes and cranberries. Blair volunteered to grill the turkey. Skip the ham. I would make the gravy. The hour before we served our feast, instead of sweating and grumbling over a stovetop, I found myself relaxed and pondering our music playlist.

I highly encourage you to try this at home—or wherever you're celebrating the holidays.

Mind you, there will be changes. The magic doesn’t happen if you micromanage your fellow cooks. You need to set the challenge, define the terms, and step back. You may end up with dishes that reflect the FourSight thinking preferences of their makers: Blair, who likes to ideate, grilled a Cajun spiced turkey. Becca, who likes to clarify, followed her grandmother’s traditional recipe for ultra-high-fat, cream-cheese mashed potatoes. The meal was an adventure, but when it all came together, each of us took pride in our work and felt grateful for what others brought to the table.

So here's our challenge to you: This year, make at least some component of your holidays a collaborative problem-solving effort, so you can enjoy the music.

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Sarah Thurber

Sarah is managing partner at FourSight and the author of The Secret of the Highly Creative Thinker, Creativity Unbound, and Facilitation: A Door to Creative Leadership. Her work helps teams and leaders think creatively, work collaboratively and achieve innovative results.