Inner Development Goals – The 5 essential elements to fulfill our organizational & community visions.

3 min read

“The most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human."
-John Naisbitt

When thinking about developing thriving organizational cultures and driving social system change, we know a lot about conditions and causes, and there is a ton of knowledge out there about what ought to be done. Typically, we start with a vision of what needs to happen, but progress along the way often results in disappointment.

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When I reflected upon what we (Perennial Culture) have learned to create thriving cultures and communities, we believe that there has been a large missing piece – it’s the individual abilities, qualities, or skills that are needed to foster among the individuals, groups, and organizations that play crucial roles to fulfill the visions.

The argument that we provide is that to resolve the problems out in the world and the cultural challenges that our organizations face, we need to talk about how to build the skills among the actors who are in a position to make the vision happen. We need to set them up with their own “Inner Development Goals.”

At a concept level, the “Inner Development Goals” represents an essential framework for inner growth, and it is the greatest possible accelerator to reach our cultural development goals. It’s the foundation for creating a prosperous future for all of humanity.


Why is this the case?

Consciously or unconsciously, we put in place structures, practices, and cultures that make sense to us and correspond to the way we deal with the world.

“The general rule seems to be that the level of consciousness of an organization cannot exceed the level of consciousness of its leader” - Frederic Laloux

That being the case, the challenges that our communities face are a result of the current skillsets and belief systems that our leaders consciously or unconsciously operate behind. In order to overcome those challenges, we need to develop the belief systems and skillsets that created them.

So how can organizations and communities navigate the current disruptions and challenges that they face?

The answer is simple: Develop yourself and your people.

It’s clear that the old ways of organizational and community development aren’t working. Especially when they follow the general talent development approaches resulting in members being unable to see the motivating development opportunities for themselves and the purpose of the organization.

How should we go about developing ourselves and our people?

  1. Start with creating a motivating future.

With “inner development plans” you can grow, retain, and upskill your people with personalized development plans. This can become even more motivating by helping your people identify what Culture Amp calls the “3 Es of Development.”

  • Experience: On-the-job experiences that help them grow
  • Exposure: Learning through observation
  • Education: Structure learning session.

Having all three provides a holistic path to growth, resulting in well-rounded successful development.

  1. Invest in high-impact inner development skillsets

I have been referring to the “Inner Development Goals” nonprofit for inner development. They research, collect, and communicate science-based skills and qualities that help us live purposeful, sustainable, and productive lives. Through the input from 1000+ participants and the ongoing co-creation and input from experts, scientists, practitioners, and organizations around the world, they explain 5 categories and 23 transformational skills that we as leaders should develop.

“At an individual level, when life calls for change, we always feel a tensions, sometimes pleasant, sometimes unsettling. There are habits we have grown fond of; our identity is invested in certain situations. But when change isn't imposed from the outside, from above; when we personally feel powerful and responsible; when there is a safe space where we can have meaningful conversations about all of this...chances are that embracing change is somewhat easier.”
― Frederic Laloux


The IDG framework of skills and qualities relates to what is needed to successfully work with complex societal issues – AKA – the ability to navigate and build thriving & sustainable cultures. Both at an organizational and community level. On top of that, these skills and qualities are important for general well-being or for empowering individuals to lead satisfying lives.

What are these critical skill sets?

Being – Relationship to self

Cultivating our inner life and developing and deepening our relationship with our thoughts, feelings, and body help us be present, intentional, and non-reactive when we face complexity

Sub-skillsets include inner compass, integrity & authenticity, openness and learning mindset, self-awareness, and presence.

Thinking – Cognitive Skills

Developing our cognitive skills by taking different perspectives, evaluating information, and making sense of the world as an interconnected whole is essential for wise decision-making.

Sub-skillsets include critical thinking, complexity awareness, perspective skills, sense-making, and long-term orientation & visioning.

Relating – Caring for others and the world

Appreciating, caring for, and feeling connected to others, such as neighbors, future generations, or the biosphere, helps us create more just and sustainable systems and societies for everyone.

Sub-skillsets include appreciation, connectedness, humility, and empathy & compassion.

Collaborating – Social Skills

To make progress on shared concerns, we need to develop our abilities to include, hold space and communicate with stakeholders with different values, skills, and competencies.

Sub-skillsets include communication skills, co-creation skills, inclusive mindset & intercultural competence, trust, and mobilization skills.

Acting – Driving Change

Qualities such as courage and optimism help us acquire true agency, break old patterns, generate original ideas, and act with persistence in uncertain times

Sub-skillsets include courage, creativity, optimism, and perseverance.

“The most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human."
-John Naisbitt

My deepest hope is that we collectively work on our own inner developmental goals so that we can unlock greater levels of collective impact. It starts with us. I truly believe that we have the great potential to add value for everyone in every culture: individuals, families, organizations, communities, humanity, and the planet. We just need to look internally within ourselves and start there.

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