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Facilitating the superordinate goal statement (Step 1 of 5)

The first step in the process with stakeholders is to obtain a single statement of about one sentence (up to about 3 sentences), constructed through the participation and consent of all the stakeholders, in a way that every stakeholder can enthusiastically agree, “Yes, I think this statement describes my understanding of where we want our system to be once our work is complete, and I was an active participant in the writing of this statement.”

One tendency that needs to be managed—kept in check—is that stakeholders will tend to prematurely offer “what we should do.” It would be incorrect to focus on this question during the initial step, and the facilitator has to firmly steer clear of such a diversion of attention during this first step.

Stakeholders will also tend to offer what they think the problem is, and again the facilitator must maintain the discipline to prevent the diversion of the conversation prematurely.

The goal of step one is to obtain a succinct statement of common understanding with universal participation, concerning what we envision the condition of our system will be, what it will look like, when we have successfully completed the work of improving the system.

Step 1: Hypothetical example
of a superordinate goal
obtained to solve a
challenge of “a lack of
innovation,” identified
in discussion with
about three dozen
representatives of
industry, government,
academia, education,
philanthropy, and others.

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