In keeping with my recent Strategy 101 post, I want to cover some of the key elements of my Natural Strategy method in more detail. Today, I’d like to talk about an important practice I call The Progressive Circle.
Forming recurring patterns that I see quite often, people and organizations pursuing progressive change frequently lack either: 1) a clear and motivating mid-term vision of change or 2) a strong and adventurous sense of their needed immediate next steps…or both of course.
In practice, a compelling vision and a short list of immediate actions are each essential to building lasting change and a natural complement of one another. Our vision can be used to drive and guide our next steps and choices, while progress toward our vision can test, inform, and potentially change our vision and plans.
Remove either a motivating and realistic vision or engagement in tangible short-term action, and any quest for progressive change is likely to be far less successful, or far less ambitious in scope, than it might or need be.
After all, change must always happen in real-time. It is never realized or advanced by actions delayed or imagined. At the same time, each practical step forward must be guided by values and goals – if our steps are to made intentional and optimal, and more than a random walk.
With these crucial ideas in mind, I would encourage you to think of the tasks of both personal and organizational change as greatly aided by strategic plans containing all five of the following elements:
Five Essential Strategic Plan Elements
- Your Mission – the values or motivations driving you or your organization forward
- Your Vision – what you would like your life or organization to be in 2-3 years
- 1-Month Actions – what you will do in the 30 days to achieve your vision (favoring small, reversible steps)
- 2-12 Month Actions – what you plan to do after the next month but within a year
- 12+ Month Actions – what actions you have in mind a year or more from now
As you can see, this five-part plan structure naturally combines reflective missioning and visioning with practical and probing action. It also promotes learning and refinement via an integral and ongoing 30-day review process…which should include a review of all five elements, using the results and feedback from each month’s planned set of actions and any other learning at hand.
Together, this focus on successive or rapid-cycle visioning, action, and learning produces what I call The Progressive Circle – a powerful meeting or natural centering of emotion and reason, action and learning, imagination and practice.
I’ve summarized this important strategy process in the following chart, and would encourage you to capture any lessons or to-do’s the graphic and our discussion inspires…
Whatever personal or organizational lessons you take away from considering The Progressive Circle, I’d enjoy hearing about them, especially as you begin to make use of this critical aspect of my Natural Strategy method.
Health & best wishes,
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