(2022-12-27) Cutler TBM-55/52 Making A Model Step By Step

John Cutler: TBM 55/52: Making a Model (Step-by-Step). Note: This process took about 60 minutes. To do this right, you would need to 1) invite collaborators, and 2) spend more time. (He saves/shares a Miro board at each step.) (I see this as leading to Diagram of Effects, an Opportunity Solution Tree, and a North-Star Metric.)

Step 1: Set a goal

My goal with this model is to explore the drivers of a healthy community. Eventually, I want to be able to prioritize initiatives to influence the key levers for community vitality and success. A community has a couple of flywheels in effect, so I want to surface those. (cf NorthStar metric)

Step 2: Explore inputs and outputs

first from the input to output direction and then from the output to input direction (input metric)

(I can kinda-understand why he starts with this table/list layout, but I prefer to jump into a Diagram of Effects.)

Step 3: Check prior work.

I ask ChatGPT to "create an outline of factors that contribute to our sense of belonging to a community... I also looked at SPACE (David Spinks) and something by LeaderNetworks.

I read these sources and take notes on sticky notes

Step 4: Start grouping sticky notes... by theme

Step 5: Refine the grouping

Why is this valuable? The previous step was messy. There were a lot of contradictions. The output is easier to look at and talk about.

Step 6: Think about the customer journey.

I brainstorm three categories of customer journey moments

Why is this valuable? It keeps things customer-centric and adds a new perspective to offset these theoretical drivers.

Step 7: First pass at a model

This activity is primarily an exercise in grouping similar things and thinking about how they connect with other groups of items.

High level, the pattern is that great content and fostering connections creates a virtuous loop. And the environment helps!

Step 8: Second pass and stopping point


  • We add arrows to denote the flywheel effect
  • We add a "value" box with different sub-factors
  • And a box to remind people that we hope to increase active membership

Why is this valuable? This version could be better, but now we can start discussing prioritization and focus areas with the team.

The model needs work, and often I will start over again from scratch after I have had time to think about it. In many cases I over-simplify... Before completely starting over.

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