The Big Picture

June 3, 2013 Leave a comment

This deceptively simple diagram delineates the first step in any collaborative process.  Unless you are defining a strategic plan for your personal development, you can safely assume that successful strategic planning is collaborative by definition.

Often time the conveners of a strategic planning process have a sense of where they want the strategy to take them.  In that case, we begin outlining the big picture by answering the question.

  • What is our definition of success?  Where do we want to be at the end of this process?

In order to get anywhere, it is essential to have a clear and shared understanding of where we are now.  It is also possible to start the process here, before we begin to outline where it is we want to go.  So we ask the question:

  • What is our current work situation?  Where are we now?

We also want to have a clear understanding of our context.  Sometimes people get confused between context and “where are we now?” I see context as those circumstances that are affecting your work situation but that you don’t have much power to directly influence.  An economic downturn or a presidential election are good examples of context.

From our perspective at IISC the most important question that we have to answer when crafting the Big Picture for any process is the question of stakeholders.  Stakeholder engagement is at the very heart of successful strategy.  I will devote my next post in this series to the question of stakeholders.

We usually go through multiple iterations of the Big Picture.  First we ask the conveners of a process to answer each of the questions outlined.  After our first stakeholder analysis we will convene a design team representing the diversity of perspectives in a system – “a fractal of the whole.”

That design team will then take another crack at the Big Picture.  As more expansive circles of stakeholders are engaged they continue to shape our understanding of the Big Picture, it serves as a point of reference that dynamically evolves throughout the process.

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