Jane Goodall is not just an optimist, she takes action. A “fighting optimist,” she calls herself.

In her book, “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times,” Jane Goodall writes that people tend to mistake hope for passive, wishful thinking. Hope requires action and engagement, she admonishes. People should realize that the cumulative effect of thousands of actions, however small they may seem, will truly make a difference.

“Hope is what we desire to happen, but we must be prepared to work hard to make it so.”

More generally, I call “future picture” the cognitive process we undergo to envision how we imagine circumstances should look once we’ve completed taking action. And the “future picture” process occurs continually, even in the simplest of our daily circumstances. It is natural and spontaneous, involving more than the deliberative, rational part of our thinking.

Our individual “future picture” process is also fleeting and ephemeral, and therefore is often overlooked when applying problem-solving to the multi-stakeholder context, where its intuitive, imaginative nature must be translated into a deliberate, deliberative process.

Formulating the stakeholder-driven “future picture” as a one- to three-sentence statement—about 100 words—is a way to make it concrete, consensus-based, and enduring over the course of the entire problem-solving effort. Insisting on performing this initial step of the problem-solving process will also show stakeholders that they do have a future picture in common.

It will give them hope.

Kevin