Michael Sampson’s “Reflections on GTD’s Horizons of Focus”

Michael Sampson has just published another thought provoking post, offering this time his Reflections on GTD’s Horizons of Focus. I will not try and summarise his post, but would like to invite readers to visit his blog, before reading any further. … see you soon! ;-)

… In the section which bears the title of “I’ve Disregarded 20,000ft in my Implementation” Michael writes:

“I have been unable to reconcile my desire for clear lines of strategic roll-down with the inclusion of the 20,000 ft level as an altitude in the GTD model. It seems to come out of nowhere, and for my thinking, breaks the linkage between 1-2 year goals and current projects.”

This has made think hard about the question and inspired a few comments which I would like to share, with all due respect, as a way to develop the conversation.

Michael Sampson’s 5 levels (used by permission)

The way I look at it is the following, for what it is worth. It is true that there is a degree of overlap between the 10,000 feet level (current projects) and the 20,000 feet level (areas of responsibility). However, I would tend to consider that the main purpose of the 20,000 ft level is to help check and monitor the alignment between the areas of responsibility and the current projects: what you are doing versus what you should be doing. As such, I would tend to see it as crucial for reviewing one’s priorities and making one’s system water-tight.

I would be tempted to see the three tops levels (50,000 ft; 40,000 ft and 30,000 ft) as the strategic levels, the 10,000 ft and 20,000 ft as the operational levels and the runway as the tactical level. Following this line of reasoning, it would be natural that reconciling the 20,000 ft level with Michael’s “desire for clear lines of strategic roll-down” would be difficult, for it would be at an operational level, rather than at a strategic one.

3 thoughts on “Michael Sampson’s “Reflections on GTD’s Horizons of Focus”

  1. Pascal,
    Thanks for sharing your thinking. This is great!

    So as to understand what you are proposing, can you give me an example of what you would write down for the 20,000 ft vs. 10,000 ft to help “monitor alignment”?

    Also, while I accept that 10,000 ft is an operational level, I think that if there is a clear linkage to the 30-50,000 ft levels, then that is “strategic roll-down”.


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