PATH has seven sections and over the years each of them has captured my attention and, for a while, I think that part is the most important part. But I was struck this week as I think about these ideas by this posting from Seth Godin, one of my go-to leaders (I ask my leadership students to subscribe to his blog and then try to use his postings for discussions over the semester). Godin writes:
What’s at the front of the line?
A study of behavior at breakfast buffets showed that the first item in the buffet was taken by 75% of the diners (even when the order of the items was reversed) and that two-thirds of all the food taken came from the first three items, regardless of how long the buffet is.
This means that optimizing marketers usually put the things they most want to sell first.
And that smart consumers benefit from adopting patience as they consider what’s on offer.
Of course, this game theory applies to a lot more than food.
I am always amazed that while I tell people in our trainings not to switch up the order of PATH or shorten any of the processes, they often come back with ideas about “a mini-PATH” or say things like “we decided that section wasn’t really applicable in our organization” (the WHO section, because people didn’t need friends or community – ARGH!!!!).
But the DREAM section of PATH takes up half the space. It’s not always the most important thing that happens, but 95% of the time it is. The documentation of what we dream of, aspire to, what we want. Sometimes it is the first time people have been asked. It often the place where Indigenous people find the most meaning in a process that is unlike anything they might have experienced before. I love this paper by Kataraina Pipi, “The PATH Planning Tool and its Potential
for Whānau Research.” As with our own dream-life, this is a place of great creativity, where families often get on-board in a new way when they hear their child’s dreams. For community PATHs to gather organizations around planning it can be a great place of vision to get poised for action.
If we interfere in the free flow of someone’s dreams, whatever we’ve inserted will be the thing that ends up being talked about, almost always. So when the mom leans over to say that she wants her daughter to go on a diet, if you go with that, it’ll be the thing that gets attended to, almost always. As Godin says, whatever is at the front of the buffet – even when the order of the items is reversed.
My friend and colleague Shelley Nessman asks a brilliant question in the section, often just before we move on to the next part. She says, “So before we move on, I just wanted to check with you – often people have a dream that has to do with their health. It’s fine if that’s not the case for you but is there anything about your health you wanted that is part of your dream?”
So interesting to see parents, frustrated when one won’t add “diet” to the dream, sit up and listen to their children talk in informed, thoughtful ways about their own ideas about their bodies and health habits and vision of their futures 🙂