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  • Writer's pictureJon Ralphs

Planning backward when you're stuck in the now.

Over the last twenty years, I have been using the PATH process as a planning style with individuals, teams, organisations and communities.

The PATH process (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) was developed by Jack Pearpoint, Marsha Forest and John O‘Brien, and used from the 1990's onwards. It is recorded on one large piece of paper using images and colours, usually completed over a few hours.

It starts with the end in mind (Stephen Covey). We ask ‘what is the vision, passion purpose - if we are the best we can be what would that look like?‘. This is the starting place, whether for an individual's life plan or for a three year strategy for a large o

rganisation. This section of the graphic has a bright star, the North Star, often called a guiding star. Before we had sat-nav or smartphones, when sailors got lost at sea they would look for the brightest star in the sky and use this to get back on track and head in the right direction.

Traditionally, we focus on the now, the present reality - not enough time, people, resources. The culture is all wrong, fire fighting with blame all too prevalent. With a PATH, we look at what is positive and possible not just ways to fix things and how to change the deficits.

Wouldn't it be great if we were to start with a vision of success and use this as a compass for action, conversations and decisions, framed with the question, ’Does this help us move towards the North Star?’ To develop a Path, I use nine clear steps, the first two of which I have described above. Drop me an email and I will send you a pdf describing each of the nine stages of the PATH process.

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