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Authenticity comes from working on yourself: Here’s a global framework to do it

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Authentic change leaders know that readiness for change experiences makes change stick. Sticky change makes progress.

Most of the time when we fail, it's because we weren't authentically ready for sticky change, at an individual or collective level.

And as a species, we are experiencing this together.

To get to the point, as an outgrowth of work on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and acknowledging in 2021-22 that progress promised in 2015 is not making it to 2030, a bunch of smart folks got together to look inward to enable outward movement and progress.

The result of research and alignment on what is going to help us achieve the UNSDGs has been is the The Inner Development Goals (IDGs) framework.

From the authors, "the IDGs framework consists of five dimensions organising 23 skills and qualities of human inner growth and development."

Why is this “inner growth” framework different from the infinite others?

Number one reason for me is that at the moment, it’s agnostic, agnostic to belief system, cultural framework, industry, policy, or organization. The Framework gets is public "launch" tomorrow (link provided below). The authors of the model have a writeup that explains exactly how it was developed and became the version that it is, including early disagreements on structure, open ended questions that remain, and what ongoing data gathering and discussions are continuing.

It’s anchored in the UNSDGs and agreement that as humans we have a lot to do and need to shift our pace to make a difference, so if you’re not on board there, it may be a non-starter. A conversation for another day, and here’s your time back if that’s your starting point.

But if you’re still “in”, then this is a fantastic 2023 addition to your planning and self-value approach.


Yes, the process by which you check how you are doing at being the person you want to be. Whatever that means to you, how you value yourself and invest in that value. You’re still reading, so that’s you valuing yourself to find out more. This model supports that just as effectively as it supports team inner development conversations.

Here are the five dimensions:

  1. Being: Relationship to Self

  2. Thinking: Cognitive Skills

  3. Relating: Caring for Others and the World

  4. Collaborating: Social Skills

  5. Acting: Driving Change

Underneath these five are 23 specific attributes or skills, like Inner Compass under Being, and Long-term Orientation and Visioning under Thinking, or Co-creation Skills under Collaborating that focus inner development on enabling change, the central purpose at hand.

The strength of the IDGs is focus, a chosen mix of attributes and skills aimed at enabling collaborative achievement of the sustainable development goals. They aren’t aimed at making each of us “better”, whatever amorphous definition we fight over that to mean.

The purpose of enabled global collaborative progress intends that the IDGs work as a model we ALL can apply.

What a daunting idea! Global application?

To explicitly aim for value across cultures, value systems, beliefs and practices, social structures and political progress, but still anchored in the SDGs as a pre-existing alignment, and having reached this point to share it out for comment and use? This is the entry point and pre-work I'd want to see to feel more comfortable considering it as I look into 2023 for myself and my clients and students.

Goal achievement is not a zero-based game.

Zero-based goal setting is a lazy way to hit a reset button, and in truth, very few of us actually do it. We know better. Today is built on a foundation of yesterday, and even if you want to reject that foundation, you still have work to do to remove it! That's a choice to make to engage in that effort, not a quick wipe on the white board.

Incremental alignment for collaboration is less sexy than custom-branded novel greenfield ideas, but it is the approach that builds strengths on strengths. This is not a snazzy new framework that subliminally pitches software or data management. It's not a new social media sensation on how to be a newer fresher you, either.

This is a thoughtfully considered response to a global conversation.

Be a part of it and consider that we, the world, came together in common purpose to define targets for the world. It took us eight years to agree that we are unprepared to achieve the targets against the goals we set. It took us this long to get to an inventory of personal readiness we can work with together that we are now opening up for discussion. That to me is a framework meeting a need (not creating demand) and addressing a specific issue (global collaboration readiness) that I can test against my own goal achievement readiness for utility:

  1. Probably like you, I test first for relevance. Does this fit in with my sense of honor and definitions of “good”? If values are presented, do they harmonize with mine? From an overall gut check to checking details on how it resonates, it can be a fast check or take a bit of time to assess. As an organization, does this align with our own values narratives? Is that part of our opportunity, or does it highlight a fit issue?

  2. Then I look for resilience. Does the framework fit the range of goals I have, at various stages and priorities? Can it flex where I do? This is where most frameworks fail as too specific to a moment in time, a stage of life, a narrow cut of industry or social perspective, and just not transferable enough to apply to a robust goal framework.

  3. Clicking in on resilience, I look for inclusion. Is there balance between head and heart?. Is there room for intuition as well as logic? Can I feel this as well as think it? Can everyone else in my community of collaboration? Can all personality types apply, in all our Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, DISC, Archetype uniqueness? Frankly, is this welcoming enough to be trustworthy as a bellwether on "inner" progress?

  4. Building on inclusive design, I test for communities and systems of support. I dig into who was involved, who is speaking for it, how it is being introduced and supported, and what engaging loops for input are in place and being built. Are the voices speaking for this model representative of the communities of collaboration we want to be a part of? (This is where I’m watching to see how fast this gets translated into products and services, and by whom, as well as what critiques arise to challenge inherent biases or other influences.)

So far, the IDGs are passing these tests for me and how I’d like to use and apply them. I’m staying tuned, but I think if we do this together, we can shift our pace. I believe that this is a kernel out of which we can redefine and measure readiness and effectiveness in change contexts (like life and work).

From a personal level to organizational reach and strategy, getting real about our ability to collaborate toward shared achievement needs structure to make change stick.

Toolkits and other resources will be coming down the line, some of them open source from the non-profit behind the IDGs itself, and many more from lots of other people as this gets integrated into performance management and other avenues, but until then…

Take advantage of this moment, where the framework is still a blueprint, ready for you to own your own vocabulary and interpretations.

  • Use the 4 steps above to check it for yourself.

  • What does your inner compass tell you you’re craving?

  • What scares you to consider?

  • What inspires you to think differently?

Then you can look for resources and opportunities to plan into achieving the goals you confirm for 2023.


Click here to access the IDG site and view the introductory video there:

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