Many of us feel powerless to influence our future. Some of us even feel victimized by our circumstances. Instead of leaving the future to chance, we must create the future of our choice and accept the responsibility for our own well-being. This is just as true for organizations as it is for individuals.

The context for my work is A Model for Change™. Its design is intentionally puzzle-like because there are five key pieces that must fit together in order for organizations and individuals to be successful in creating the future of their choice.

Energy – You Need a Full Tank

Energy is the fuel for any journey we choose to make, and the more we have, the farther we can go and the longer we can last. It is important that we top off our tanks before embarking on any important journey. In organizations, a lot of energy walks through the door every day. Unfortunately, much of it is expended without contributing much value. Many times it is because of what the organization demands of its workforce or the fact that it does not provide the support needed to help them meet the challenges they face. Human energy is the fuel for change, and we must try to maximize it in order to maximize the chances that we will be successful.

Vision – A Clear Picture

Visioning is about the possibilities. A vision is the image we have of who or what we are trying to become. We have known for a long time that in order to create the future of our choice, we must be able to imagine it. Vision is also the lens through which we focus our energy. The clearer the image we have of the future we are trying to create, the more sharply focused our energy. When the image is clear, and we believe in it and treat it as fact, it will inform and guide our every decision.

Opportunities – Adding Realism

Opportunities are about the probabilities. No matter how good we get at imagining the future, there is such a thing as the real world. There will be potholes in the road and barriers to be overcome. We need to assess what might get in the way of our success. We must add realism to our dreams, and that’s what we do when we filter them through an accurate assessment of our opportunities. Out of the process of filtering our vision or dream through our opportunities comes a more realistic view of what is possible for us.

Plans – The Road Map to Our Vision

If we have enough energy focused through a shared vision and filtered through an assessment of our opportunities, we have what we need to build a road map to that place we imagine. These are the plans that provide driving directions for our journey. In fact, it will become a "book of maps," with each person having his or her own page or section in the "book," which represents the strategic plan for the organization.

Partnerships – We May Not Get There If We Don’t Go Together

All of the above means nothing if we don't join hands in effective ways. Partnership is at the base of the Model because I believe that partnerships are the foundation of all organizational excellence. If we don’t partner in effective ways, we don’t excel. We may survive, or even make money, but we won’t become all we choose to become unless we learn how we can do it together. We don’t form organizations because we can do significant things by ourselves. We form them because we need to work in partnership with others who can and want to contribute to our joint success.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Putting these pieces together will help you identify the challenges and opportunities that you and your organization are likely to encounter as you navigate your journey into the future. Doing so will help you to focus your change resources so as to achieve maximum long-term value and benefit.