Here’s a question for you, what do Hollywood storytellers and National Security red teams have in common?

They both start with the bad guy, or villain. A Hollywood writer knows that a story won’t come to life without the tension of the adversary. DoD red teams know that in order to plan what our military should look like they need to know how our enemies think and what our own vulnerabilities are. Put differently, they get to holistic thinking by starting from a completely different point of view than most.

At RL Leaders our methodology for ideation is anchored by the same approach Hollywood filmmakers use when writing a script AND the national security community uses when they red team a potential adversary. These two distinct yet separate processes form the basis of our Deep Applied Creativity offering on how to ideate through holistic thought. It’s the critical component of our secret sauce. I think it makes our offering unique and powerful!

It’s also an approach that’s exactly the opposite of how most ideation occurs

Stepping back for a moment, the reason organizations spend billions of dollars and countless hours on ideating is that they need to figure something out. “How do we stay relevant? How do we handle disruption? How do we grow? How do we solve a wicked hard problem?” Their challenges are all the more difficult given the incredibly complicated world we all live in.

Yet the tools most organizations bring to the table remain mired in traditional processes and methodologies. It’s not that any of the tactics are bad, they’re just not sufficient. Rarely do the lead to truly holistic thought or change the world solutions.

Putting yourself in the bad guys’ shoes first gives you a completely different perspective. It’s a first step towards advancing holistic thinking and looking at an issue from every angle. That’s why the Army came to us after 9-11 to think about terrorism and so many others have for years now. We find it a wonderful way to break out of the rigidity of thought box.


RLL INSIGHTS are curated from our creative subject matter expert network and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of RL Leaders. In our continued effort to identify and assess the complex challenges of our time, we aim to curate divergent and innovative perspectives, aligning all lenses and disciplines from our remarkable network. We thank you for your readership and encourage you to share your own creative INSIGHTS with us.