January 23rd, 2015

When situations do not conform to established frames of reference — when the hardest part of the problem is figuring out what the problem is—planning alone is inadequate and design becomes essential. – The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual

By Ron Nakamoto

An evolution in our thinking about planning has taken place over the past several years. Because Empowered Wealth emerged from Lee Brower’s estate planning practice, much of the original “Empowered Quadrant Bank” that was described in the book “The Brower Quadrant” was focused on the legal structure of a sophisticated estate plan. Lee would often talk about the Empowered Quadrant Bank or Q-Bank or Family Bank as a “repository” for the deposit and withdrawal of family assets. Because of legal constraints on the use of the word “bank” in describing this structure, the word “Treasury” was eventually substituted. A “Treasury”, in our way of thinking, suggests more of the protection and stewarding of a family’s “Treasure”. When talking about the “Treasury”, Lee often mentions a quote from the Bible “…for where your treasure is, your heart will be there also”.

As stories, Narratives, and Narrative Wisdom began to take on greater emphasis our work, our process gradually shifted from an emphasis on legal structure to a broader focus on an ongoing process that includes planning, structure, tools to “capture” and “capitalize” assets (such as the TimeMap and Wisdom Narrative), and tools to build and maintain positive routines, habits, and eventually a family or organizational culture. The philosophical underpinnings guiding this ongoing process has been what we now call The Empowered Wealth Mindset. This “mindset” is based upon Gratitude, True Wealth, Family Leadership, Living Legacy, and Congruent Leverage.

The process of planning and the process of attaining an Empowered Wealth Mindset are really never “done”. Additionally, these are activities that are taking place in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world where how to think about problems is often difficult and unknown. This is why we’ve shifted from thinking in terms of a “Powerful PLANNING Process” to more of an ongoing “DESIGN” process, building on the wisdom of the past while looking towards creating a bigger future.



The Relationship Between Design and Planning
“In general, planning is problem solving, while design is problem setting.”

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