Our Point of Greatest Resistance

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Mark LundegrenI’m at the halfway point in drafting my new book, my second, and taking a break – to the extent that writing blog posts and attending to side projects is a break. In any case, they are easier than daily writing, and a welcome respite.

For this post, I want to offer a simple and quite flexible tool for diagnosing the general state of our efforts and pursuits, whether personal or organizational. Often, when we are immersed in work or other endeavors, we may not adequately see our essential context, or the main reason or reasons that things are as they are.

But this needn’t and generally shouldn’t be the case, since excessive immersion can greatly reduce our effectiveness, and because reframing or perspective-increasing tools are widely available and fairly easy to use. And I have found one tool in particular, probing for our point of greatest resistance or our main strategic bottleneck or barrier to success, to be especially powerful – helping us to quickly gauge our situation, and our potential opportunity to either redouble, adjust, or wholly change our efforts.

Simple Mapping Tool To Assess Personal & Organizational Barriers

There of course are many ways of assessing or diagnosing our efforts and increasing situational awareness, but focusing on resistance points or strategic weakness is often remarkably simple and intuitive, and frequently provides a higher initial result than other approaches. And to make the approach even easier, I would encourage you simply to consider or probe for resistance in just two areas, ones essential for success in any domain: 1) the state of production or your current supply potential, and 2) the state of consumption or your current demand conditions. In this approach, we look for basic barriers, or points of resistance, in both domains – and then seek to understand the reasons why.

In my experience, the approach is remarkably straightforward and reliably generates fresh insights – whether we use it in our lives or work, and alone or in groups. As a consulting strategist, it can help me to quickly understand the main barriers or issues an organization is facing, from startups to long-established enterprises. In your life and work, the technique of probing for resistance may help you to see various efforts in a new and often quite fundamental way, providing insights that you can consider, test, and then act on.

When using the approach, all personal and organizational efforts are understood as potentially subject to critical barriers or points of resistance in one or both of two areas:

> Production – the ability of a person or group to produce or create something of value – whether a raw material, product, service, experience, or change. In general, when the point of greatest resistance involves production, this points to immature, inadequate, inefficient, ineffective, or otherwise misdirected execution on an idea, value proposition, or mission.

> Consumption – the interest or willingness of people to buy or otherwise use a person’s or organization’s output. When the point of greatest resistance involves consumption, sometimes this is owing to lack of awareness or publicity, a state of affairs that is often easily or progressively overcome (if not, this suggests awareness is not the primary issue). But more generally, poor or weak consumption, demand, or uptake of an offering points to inadequate value in the offering – or the idea, proposition, or mission underlying the offering. Costs may be too high, benefits too low or too ambiguous, or both.

As my graphic above illustrates, the idea of potentially low or high states of both production and consumption also can be used to create a four-part model that describes productive efforts generally. Where there are no major points of resistance in production and consumption, this suggests thriving conditions for an effort. At the other extreme, significant resistance in both domains indicates an effort or enterprise is struggling and suggests a basic rethinking of actions, approach, and goals.

When a personal or organizational effort has high productive or supply capacity, but low or inadequate consumption or demand, this almost always suggests untapped, misallocated, or misdirected capacity – or a condition of less than fully successful striving – and therefore a need to examine and increase the value of the output (benefits minus costs). Importantly however, if such value-increasing changes are not obvious, then the condition instead indicates a need to revisit underlying assumptions and even the basic mission of the effort or endeavor.

On the other hand, where demand is high or increasing, but production capacity is the point of resistance, as is often the case in start-up and aspiring ventures, this suggests that an examination and rethinking of current production plans or operating models is in order. Often, this will involve new investments, new techniques, or new production partners.

I would encourage you to use this two-part approach for assessing resistance points, along with the above model of productive efforts, right away. This is both to deepen your understanding of the approach and because it can be so useful. As highlighted, you can apply the approach to current efforts in your life, to planned or nascent ones, to an organization you work for or are interested in, or to the efforts of people and groups around you.

As I often do, you are likely to find this simple approach or shorthand quite powerful and applicable in many settings. In practice, it can help us to understand and strategically reframe efforts in ways that are useful, immediately actionable, and enduring. And it frequently will provide fundamental insights into how endeavors of all types and sizes might be made more vibrant, growing, compelling, and valuable.

Health & best wishes,

Mark

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