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  • Writer's pictureTom Kothman

What is the True North designation?



The True North designation identifies tools that have significant strategic planning value. The factors that go into the True North designation are ROI, Access, Actionable and Scalable.


ROI: Return on investment Is cost vs. payoff. The bigger the payoff vs the cost the better. Cost can be anything, like the price of a book, conference registration, reading time, etc. Payoff occurs because of the investment. Usually this is a monetary figure but can also be morale, efficiency, time to market, and so on. Both must be measurable in some fashion.


Access: How accessible is the tool? The more accessible the better. First, is it readable to the common man or must one possess a PhD to comprehend its meaning? Readability is an objective measure via the Flesch Kincaid reading ease test, the Flesch Kincaid grade level test, the Gunning Fog score, the Coleman Liau index, the Automated Readability Index (ARI), and the SMOG index. Access can also be measured by posing simple Yes/No questions like: Can any motivated person reasonably gain access to the tool? Conversely, is it available to an elite few only under specific conditions? The latter may not invalidate the tools strategic value but it dings the chances True North Seal of Approval™ will be awarded.


Actionable: Can you take action as a result of “engaging” with the tool right now or in short period of time? When completed have you moved closer to whatever your main “general” goal might be. How complicated is it to take action? If the process collects information is it “actionable”, ie can you do something as a result of having the information?


Scalable: Is the tool able to be used multiple times in future-oriented applications, in other situations, by others or is it a unique, one-time only thing? Can the wisdom, insight or value created by the tool become institutionalize expertise and transform into a positive, productive tincture within an organization?


An Invitation

If you have a strategic tool that you feel deserves the True North™ designation please email me with the tool's name, a brief description of what it is, how it has been used and why you think it deserves distinction.



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