The First Step in Strategic Planning: Reducing “DKDK” Risk

In a recent Inc. Magazine article, Les McKeown describes a business adaptation of “Johari’s  Window.” Instead of the 4-part window originally developed in the mid-1950′s to help people understand their relationship with themselves and others, McKeown uses a circle representing everything you need to know to grow your business successfully:

It is made up of things that you “know you know” (KK), things you “know you don’t know” (KDK) and – typically the largest portion of the Window – the things that you “don’t know you don’t know” (DKDK). It’s the DKDK that keeps most executives up at night, because when you realize that you don’t know what you don’t know, risk (real and perceived) abounds.

The Implications Wheel was created precisely to reduce the size of DKDK. The Wheel process draws on the collective wisdom of an organization’s stakeholders to identify the cascade of unintended consequences associated with significant change (an innovation being brought to market by you or your competitor; a critical decision, such as closing a business unit or merging with another company; a new policy or regulation for your company or your industry; or a new project that requires approval by a regulatory agency).

The Wheel produces a visual map that identifies hidden risks and opportunities into the future. This visual map allows decision-makers to see the links between events that lead to the numerous possibilities.

A completed Implications Wheel®, showing potential areas of risk (red), opportunities (blue) and "Black Swans" (starred).

A completed Implications Wheel®, showing potential areas of risk (red), opportunities (blue) and “Black Swans” (starred).

By seeing a universe of unintended consequences, leaders can make far more effective decisions today to account for those future possibilities, dramatically improving the accuracy of strategy implementation. Moreover, by engaging stakeholders in the Wheel process, the organization will enjoy far greater buy-in for the chosen strategies. Getting everyone on the same page in this fashion allows companies to implement strategies much more quickly and reliably than other methods.

To see examples of I-Wheel results, click here. For more information on how you can use the Implications Wheel system to reduce your DKDK, just fill in the form to the right.