The Desired State

This blog is designed to provide insights and ideas related to leadership and management. A lot of what I’ll be sharing are things that I’ve read, learned from others, or learned from my own experiences. I hope that as you visit this blog you will find things that will be helpful and applicable to your own management/leadership experiences, and that you will comment back with helpful tips and ideas that you’ve learned along the way as well.

I’d like to start my first blog post by sharing something that I learned from Bob Stapp, a professor for one of my MBA courses. Throughout his course he frequently referred back to a model for change called “The Current State and the Desired State,” (I’m not totally sure if that’s the official name of the model, but let’s go with that). Stapp said that he frequently challenges individuals and organizations to describe their “current state,” meaning, how are things going currently? He then asks individuals/organizations to describe their “desired state,” meaning, how do you want things to be? What’s the ideal scenario for you/your organization?

After the “current state” and the “desire state” have been established, he suggests identifying “restraining forces” and “attracting forces.” Restraining forces would be those things that are holding you back from the desired state and keeping you in your current state. Attracting forces would be anything that’s trying to pull you out of your current state, and helping you get to your desired state. Once you’ve gone through this exercise, it’s important to come up with strategic action that will help you bridge the gap between your current state and your desired state.

I went through this exercise with my team at work soon after learning about it, and I found it to be a valuable exercise that helped us develop a set of guiding principles (and goals related to these principles), with the intent of moving from our current state to our desired state. While there is no quantitative data to go along with it, I feel that this process has made a positive impact on our team, and has given us a clearer picture of our purpose, vision, and direction as an organization. If you haven’t gone through a similar exercise, either personally or with your work team, I would encourage you to do so. I think you will find it to be well worth your time.

Graphic courtesy of Bob Stapp:

desired state


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