Telos thinking is a futurespective activity to help a team understand, verbalize and affirm their ultimate goal. It is inspired on Ari Wallach´s Ted Talk 3 ways to plan for the (very) long term.

Running the activity:

  1. Explain the name and the intent of the activity:

Telos thinking. Telos comes from Greek, and it means “ultimate aim” or “ultimate purpose.” This entails asking ourselves one question: “To what end?” As we try to solve many of our daily problems, we should think about what will come after we solve them.

  1. Describe the main areas of the activity.
  • problems: what are the problems you are currently working on?
  • to what end: what will come after we solve them.
  1. Ask the participants to write their notes for the problems area
  2. Problem affinity grouping; combine the problem notes and have a quick conversation about them
  3. Ask the participants to write their notes for the To-What-End area
  4. To-What-End affinity grouping; combine the to-what-end notes and have a quick conversation about them.
  5. Ask the team to collective write a sentence defining the team ultimate purpose.

Don’t Lose the Forest for the Trees” is a popular quote to remind us that a view from a higher altitude offers a clearer picture of overall progress and remaining challenges. This activity helps teams first look at the trees (daily problems), and them rethink about their overall forest (main purpose). It is especially useful when the team is trying to get back to their main purpose.