We’ve all seen it.  Usually marked with a red star, alongside the words, "You Are Here."  Maybe you’ve seen it at the mall.  Or the airport.  Or Disneyland.  But you’ve seen it.

When you’ve seen it you’ve done a few predictable things.  Look around for landmarks…so you can see whether you are looking at the map the right way.  Examine the map for some hint of where you’re going.  Maybe you’ve thought about where you’ll need to turn once you leave the map, landmarks along the way that will help you know whether you’re still going the right way and are going to end up in the right place.

We all do those same things.  When we’re trying to get from where we are to where we’re going.  In the mall.  At the airport.  Or at Disneyland.

But what about when you’re trying to get to a new place strategically?   What about when you’re trying to help your organization get from where it is to where it needs to go?  Ever looked for the "You Are Here" sign?  Or examined the sign for landmarks along the way to where you need to go?

3_cone_model2_1 One of the best books I read in 2006 was Turning the Future Into Revenue.  As I’ve mentioned before, don’t check out of this conversation because of the title!  The back half of the book has a great discussion of strategic thinking, and it’s all anchored by the drawing on the left!

Let me point out three things for today.  See the circle at the bottom that says, "Present"?  That’s the "You Are Here" spot on the map!  Same as at the mall.  And just like at the mall, you need to look around where you are and take note of your surroundings.  Without an accurate understanding of exactly where you are, just like at the mall, you could start walking toward Starbucks only to realize later that you were looking at the map upside down!  Dohhhhhh!  But if you take some time to make sure you understand exactly where you are first you’ll be much happier with where you end up.  And probably you’ll get there a lot sooner!

The second thing to point out today are the three circles near the top of the diagram.  The circle marked "Probable" indicates where you’ll most likely end up if you do nothing different.  In other words, if you simply do what you’re currently doing, that’s where you’ll be in 10 years (or 5 or 50…however distant you’re thinking as you think strategically).

The circle marked "Possible" represents EVERYTHING that is actually possible in the way of potential outcomes.  But notice that you’ll clearly have to DO some different things in order to get there.  Doing what you’re currently doing will not get you to that destination.

And the circle marked "Preferred" indicates where you’d like to go.  But check it out.  You’ll have to do some things differently in order to get there.

The third thing to point out are the arrows along the left side of the diagram.  They represent actions that are necessary to shift to the new trajectory that will help you arrive at a different circle.  One of the key ideas is that the sooner you begin to act differently the easier it is to move over to the new trajectory.

So…where are you?  And where are you going?

P.S. I made the diagram over at Gliffy.com!

Getting to Where You’re Going
  • Where the Real Answers Lie

    Love this diagram of where to get real answers. I so agree. That said, as a peddler of 1) how to books, 2) motivation, and 3) advice, I think that these sources can be great catalysts and provocations. What do

  • Great post. Kind of like a multi-dimensional crossroads. Except what’s different as you point out it that we can change our trajectory with our actions . It’s never to late to reach our preferred future. Well, at least while we have breath in our lungs.
    Nice visual too.

  • Thanks, David! Our actions can definitely change the trajectory. In fact, they’re about the only thing that can move us into a new direction.
    Thanks for joining the conversation!

  • Wht a thoghtful insight – that came to me via two friends – and at just the right time. thank you!
    opportunity is often inconvenient