Start with the End in Mind

Share via:

This diagram has been at the heart of a lot of my consulting work for the last several years.  There is so much meaning in it.

I used a version of the diagram for yesterday’s presentation in The Twelve…a Global Online Gathering.  There’s a lot to it.  Way more than I can show in a single post.  So today, I just want to point out a few things:

First, the best place to start is by pointing out the circle in the upper right that is labeled “Preferred Future.”  This circle represents what you’ve clarified as the ultimate win; what you’re trying to produce.  It’s what you will one day call success.

Second, it’s important to have a brutally honest understanding of the present.  Not wishful thinking.  Not what you hope things are really like.  But the way they really are.  In a grouplife sense, the present is all about things like how easy it is to figure out what’s important at your church.  Or how about the real state of your coaching structure?  Or whether your senior pastor is genuinely the champion of your small group ministry?

Third, never forget the fact that if nothing changes…the probable future is very predictable.  In fact, if nothing changes in the way you do things, you can be sure of one thing.  When you look ahead 10 years or 20 years…things will be very much like what they are now.  Albert Einstein pointed out that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.”

Fourth, one of the most important activities you and your team can ever undertake is to learn to see way beyond the probable future.  Seeing the possible future at one time included things like events designed to identify the relative shepherd (Small Group Connection) and leader recruitment strategies that opened the door wide to people whose strongest connections were with people who had never attended the church (HOST Strategy and Church-Wide Campaigns).  10 years ago, who imagined online groups or the challenge and opportunities of the multi-site strategy?  Only by dreaming about what’s possible can you really hone in on the preferred.

Fifth, notice that the preferred future is actually a combination of the probable (some of what you’re already doing is good) and the possible (your ministry might actually be created by God to do some of what’s possible).  But before you move to the final idea.  Don’t miss the fact that a thin slice of the preferred is actually beyond the possible (see Ephesians 3:20-21).

Finally, pay attention to the idea that reaching the preferred future requires moving to a new trajectory.  Can’t get there on the current path.  Want to go to a new place?  Only different will get you there.  Not better.  Different.

Need help with this process?  Sometimes the fresh eyes of a strategic outsider is essential. Email Me if you’d like to talk about a consulting or coaching arrangement.

What do you think? Have a question?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Andrew Mason on August 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Wow, what a gem of an article! Book-Marked!

  2. markchowell on August 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks Andrew! I use this diagram just about every time I lead a consulting or coaching engagement.