Action Spectrum


For the last year or two I have been working on this Action Spectrum model. It started with conversations with Herman Wagter, who offered the basic elements and configuration. Then it evolved in conversations with Valdis Krebs, discussing the social network applicaitons. Concurrently, I was in dialogue with Gerard Senehi discussing transformational philanthropy. I have presented it in conversations with philanthropy professional, social change agents, and thought leaders of various disciplines. I continue to be surprised and delighted by just how powerfully people respond. Hours later, I find people sketching the concentric circles and speaking into them. I hope you find it useful too.

To me, the Action Spectrum is a framework for understanding the choices we make about the actions we take. It enables us to see these actions as a portfolio where we can perceive risk and understand metrics to expect.

“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” – Darwin

Fit, to me, is not about strength. It is about right placement. The three-toed sloth is not the strongest creature, it simply fits with the environment it lives in, and thus endures.

I am very keen to steal the term “ecosystem-based adaptation” from the climate change contingent and apply it to business ecosystems. Let us point very directly to what pivots are all about – improving the fit in the ecosystem, for example. I believe the action spectrum is the framework for helping us develop our fit and take appropriate actions within our ecosystems.

This fall I intend to write another book, at the urging of Grant McCracken, this time on the action spectrum, what I call multi-membrane organizations (or living business ecosystems), and risk management. Christelle Van Ham and I are discussing her risk management framework and how she and I can do that work together. Goodie! A writing partner!

I would love to hear how this feels to you, where you can use it, and what stories you see as examples.