Ecocycle Planning

Analyze the full portfolio of activities and relationships to identify obstacles and opportunities for progress


Ecocycle planning allows participants to reorganize an action plan involving all the players at the same time by exploring four fundamental steps. Through a cycle of birth, maturity, creative destruction and renewal, participants can transform stagnation into progress and failure into success.

Image Source: Kaospilotradar 


How to use it

  • To set priorities and balance a portfolio of strategies.
  • Identify waste and opportunities to free up resources.
  • Bring and hear all perspectives at once.
  • Create resilience and absorb disruptions by reorganizing together.
  • To see the broad picture and the details.

How to apply it

  • Participants are invited to view, organize and prioritize current activities using four developmental phases—birth, maturity, creative destruction, and renewal.
  • They are invited to formulate action steps linked to each phase—actions that are entrepreneurial (birth), bureaucratic (maturity), heretical (creative destruction), or network building (renewal).

A room with an open flat wall and open space, a blank Ecocycle map worksheet for each participant, a large wall poster version, and sticky notes for each activity.

  • 5 minutes: Introduce the idea of the Ecocycle and hand out a blank map to each participant.
  • 5 minutes: Ask each person to write down a list of all the activities (projects, initiatives) that happen in their working group (e.g. department, function or whole company).
  • 10 minutes: In pairs, participants place the activities identified on the quadrants of the Ecocycle map.
  • 15 minutes: In a group of four, participants finalize the placement of activities on the map with sticky notes.
  • 15 minutes: For multiple groups, create a whole room map and invite each group to place their sticky notes on it.
  • 30 minutes: Reflect on the pattern of placements. Focus on the activities where there is consensus about their placement. Use questions such as,
    “What do we need to creatively destroy or stop to move forward?” These are called Rigidity traps.
    “What do we need to start or prioritize to move forward?” These are called Poverty traps.
    Identifying these launches the search for solutions.
  • 10 minutes: For each activity that needs to be stopped (i.e. Rigidity traps), create a first action step.
  • 10 minutes: For each activity that needs to start or get more resources (i.e. Poverty traps) create a first action step.
  • 10 minutes: Now focus on the activities for which there is no consensus.  Do a quick round of conversation to make sense of the differences in placement.  When possible, create first actions steps to handle each item.

How to adapt it


  • Start with a simple example and topic.
  • Suggest that all phases are part of a healthy organization.
  • Be very clear on the domain or type of activities being considered—check activities across groups to be sure they are on a similar scale and domain.
  • Include views from inside and outside (diverse participants and clients can help).
  • A second cycle of the activity is highly recommended.


Learn more from Professor Brenda Zimmerman @ (see the EdgeWare tab) and David Hurst

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