The Broad Concept – A four step reflection and planning process

My first exposure to personal development in the workplace was when I started selling life assurance. The life assurance industry is well known for its use of personal development in supporting its mainly self-employed sales people.

One of the first concepts I was introduced to was The Broad Concept. This was a model for structuring customer meetings, in particular the questions asked during a fact finding meeting. This structure would help the adviser and the customer review financial goals. The concept was first articulated by Harold Zlotnik¹, co-founder of ZLC Financial Group.

I’ve found The Broad Concept to be one of those foundational personal development tools that has become an overarching framework around which all personal development processes can be shaped. It is also extremely useful as a concept for just about any type of planning activity.

The beauty of this process is its simplicity. It essentially consists of four basic questions around which more detailed questions can be asked.

1. Where am I now?
2. Where do I want to be?
3. What options are available for me to get to where I want to be?
4. Which option is the best for me right now?

In so many areas of my personal and professional life, I know some events would have gone so much better if I (and others) had stopped for a moment and thought about the answers to these four questions.

This is a high-level planning tool around which other tools and techniques can be built. Take “Where am I now?” as an example. Depending on the context in which this question is being applied, a myriad of sub-questions, tools, techniques, psychometrics or feedback models could be utilised to find suitable answers. It might also be the case that the answer is straight forward, such as, “I’m in England” or “I’m over budget.”

Let’s not take this detailed discussion any further for now. The myriad tools and techniques that can be applied to this Broad Concept essentially make up the content of this website.

In the meantime, try using the four basic questions of the Broad Concept next time you have something to review or to plan. That should be later today or early tomorrow if your life is anything like mine!

¹ Harold wrote a book called The Broad Concept Approach in 2000 but it appears to be out of print and collectors copies are selling for in excess of $65.00!

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