Monday, August 6, 2012

Change Agent: Framework, Steps 3 & 4

3. Path to activating the vision

The first project toward your personal vision that you developed in part 1 is (and should be) too big to accomplish all at once. The path to activating the vision starts by breaking it down into smaller pieces. Then you need to develop a strategy.

There seems to be a law of nature called the 80/20 rule. It manifests in a lot of different areas…80 % of your progress comes from 20% of your effort.  20% of your portfolio yields 80% of your profit. 80% of your fun comes from 20% of your leisure time.  20% of your “friends” cause 80% of your grief. Study this phenomenon in your own life.

Chunking is learning to solve problems by leveraging this rule. If you face a project that is incomprehensibly large and complex, break it down into smaller tasks.  One of them (usually a 20% piece) is the key. Discover it. If that chunk is still to large/complex, break that chunk into pieces. Find the key part or chunk. Rinse/repeat until you have a key piece that constitutes a small enough chunk to handle.

If the chunk is will be something that you show the world, it is what Agile terms a minimum viable product (MVP). Your project might create an MVP or it might only be part of one. If the key chunk of the project proves not to be doable, you have just saved an enormous amount of research time. If it proves workable, you have created a plan for accomplishing your goal!

Next, develop a strategy to implement that key chunk. A strategy is how advantages in resources are to be exploited against vulnerabilities in barriers to reach objectives. Notice that strategies contain several elements, objective(s), advantages, resources, barriers, and vulnerabilities. Your objective is to create (activate or manifest) the key chunk.  Barriers are the obstacles that prevent the key chunk from manifesting. Advantages and resources are the tools that you can apply to the vulnerabilities in the barriers that prevent the objective from becoming reality.

Bill Carson has an excellent blog on the topic of strategies.

4. Taking steps along the way.

Start using the now to concentrate on making the identified key chunk a reality. You are now on the path to accomplishing your vision!

Sometimes, you find that there is a difficult obstacle on the path. Focus your effort toward overcoming that obstacle. Occasionally, the issue proves to be insurmountable. It is best to find it as early as possible.

-          You discovered it early, so you have not wasted effort. You have certainly learned something about your vision!

-          Small failures are OK; in fact they tend to provide valuable lessons.

-          This experience gives you valuable knowledge to find an alternate path toward your vision.

-          In some cases, you may need to adjust/reset your vision.

There are some Agile concepts that can be applied to these outcomes.  If some obstacle proves to be insurmountable, you need to pivot.  That means going back to step 1 and rethinking the first project. Pivoting means that you keep one foot firmly planted (i.e. you retain your vision) and move in a different direction with the other foot (i.e. change the project or pick a completely different one).

The second concept is iteration. If executing your strategy produced only got you part of the results that you intended, make small, fast improvements. You share the results of your work with others and seek their feedback. At some point, the improvements will be good enough to declare success.

You might find that what you have accomplished is good enough to allow you to move on to the next step. Caution: Only you have the complete vision.  Feedback is important but only you know if you have accomplished enough to move on. You will know if future steps will satisfy the negative feedback or if you need to continue making iterations until this step in the project is complete.

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