How to Move from Vision to Action

My coaching work begins with a client consultation that moves from vision to practical next steps, often in as little as an hour.  How does that work exactly?

Here are the steps:

1: Clarify Your Vision

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 8.14.41 PMIf you are a social change visionary, you have a picture of a more just, equitable, sustainable, and compassionate future that you want to create.  Your vision is your personal motivation to go out and change the world.  It is also a north star that guides you in the later steps of the process.

Your vision is the picture of the future that stokes an enduring fire in your heart.

If you are unsure of your vision, try these steps to clarify it.

2: Map a Path from Your Vision to Now

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 8.14.46 PMThe next step is to design a path that links your vision to now.  This roadmap is a series of causally-linked outcomes called a theory of change.

Your roadmap will not be set it stone.  It will change as your implement it.  Its purpose is to show you that your vision is possible.

To create the roadmap we’ll start with your vision and work backwards, moving through a series of causally outcomes until we get to the present.  That first outcome – the one right after now – becomes the first goal you’ll take action to achieve.

If this sounds confusing, don’t worry.  Believe it or not, you probably already know all the elements of your theory of change.  You just need to think about how they are connected.  Think of theory of change as a story about how your vision might happen.

To start, try to tell that story in five steps.  What will happen right before your vision is realized?  And before that? And before that?  Keep on asking that question until you get to now.

3: Act, Reflect, Repeat

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 8.14.51 PMNow you have a goal to work towards, so you can make a plan of action to achieve it.  But it won’t be a complex or longterm plan.

In the ten years that I’ve been working with change-makers, I’ve learned that making longterm plans is often a waste of time.  There is a lot we still don’t know.

For this reason, I take a page from Lean Startup strategy and focus on identifying short-term actions that maximize learning.

First identity actions you’ll take within the next week.  Then, at the end of the week, reflect on the results of those actions.  Did you get the result you wanted and expected?  If yes, how can you build on it?  If no, how can you use the feedback information you gained to act more effectively next time?

And then you act again.

This is the process for changing the world.  It starts with a big inspiring vision and ends with ongoing action to make that vision a reality.

Do you have a question about the above? Then come ask me in my free office hours:

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Note: cross-posted, with minimal edits, from

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