On Choosing What NOT To Do

Choosing what not to do is very near the heart of identifying your preferred future. If you study the diagram for a moment, you’ll see that the preferred future is actually a subset of three areas:

The Probable Future: I think of this as a way of describing the way things will be in your ministry or organization if nothing changes. You pick the timeline, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, it doesn’t matter. The probable future is what things will look like if you’re doing the same things.  

The Possible Future: This is actually all of the known or imagined possibilities for the future. For example, you might have a meeting where you brainstorm as many possibilities for connecting people as you can.  

The Adjacent Possible: This section isn’t labeled in the diagram, but if you look closely in the preferred future section, you’ll notice that it includes some of what is actually beyond the possible future. I think of the adjacent possible as the Ephesians 3:20-21 aspect of the preferred future.  

Where does choosing what not to do come in? According to Michael Porter, “Choosing what not to do is the essence of strategy.” Porter, often recognized as the father of modern strategy, has boiled down our discussion to its essence.

Calling out the preferred future is really a three step process:

  1. identifying the gold of what you are currently doing.
  2. imagining all of the possibilities beyond what you are currently doing.
  3. choosing what not to do trims out the extra that may very well be good but not great.
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Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.