Horizontal focus is where you think about moving the project forward towards its goal. Next steps etc. It's apparently all that's needed in most situations. Seeing the form on the table in front of you. Picking up a pen. Signing it at the bottom.
Vertical focus takes things deeper. It's needed in more complex situations. Finding creative solutions to problems. I'm all for vertical focus. This is where the fun is to be found. More of it.
Allen starts by talking about back-of-the-envelope planning. You're sitting in a coffee shop and dream up an idea (he talks about hashing out an agenda for a sales presentation - probably the equivalent to my dreaming up an idea) and jot it down on any bit of paper you can find. He says this tends to be the most productive kind of planning and this natural planning model is what we need to aim at. Excellent! I'm with him here, 100%. Back-of-the-envelope planning is what I do!
But then he goes on to break up natural planning into 5 stages! No no no. No no no no no! Something stimulating and creative and wonderful is about to become tedious.
The natural planning model
1. Defining purposes and principles
2. Outcome visioning
5. Identifying next action
Natural planning has a vision for where we want to end up. We use it for many things - getting dressed in the morning, choosing a restaurant for dinner... Unfortunately, we tend not to use it at times when we really should. We're reactive and just try to get ourselves out of the crisis at hand.
Natural planning is natural, he argues, but not normal. Most people don't stand back and look at the big picture. They just try to untangle the mess in front of them. I see his point.
From here, the chapter went on in painstaking, boring detail, to explain how to do natural planning. Step by step. How to define purpose. How to brainstorm. Blah blah blah.
I think this chapter has a lot going for it. We need to think big picture.
But this is the world I live in. Whenever I do anything, I see the end product in HD. I know exactly how I want my Sunday School curriculum to look. Right down to the fonts on the page. I know exactly how I want the set set up. I know how the unit hangs together. I can see all that right from the start - in fact I can't start doing anything on it before I see the end product. [Which, incidently, is why I'm such a beast to work with. I'm told that my choir has to wear long, elastic waisted blue trousers. What?!? My choir doesn't dress like that!]
If someone is already a big picture person, giving them instructions on how to see a vision is laughably pointless. It's like giving me a five step method for breathing! I can't help but do it!
But you tell me. If someone's not naturally a 'visionary'[!], can they learn to be?