Building a Planning Culture with the Career Tree

Posted January 24, 2019 by Mark Perna

Last year, we unveiled the new Root System Career Plan that helps your students create their personal, viable plans of study for life after graduation. Today, I want to look at the bigger picture surrounding the Root System Career Plan, and that is the concept of the planning culture.

What’s a Planning Culture?

A planning culture is an environment that encourages individuals to set a goal or destination; plan to reach that goal through myriad pathways, opportunities, and research; and continually adjust and calibrate the goal and plan to further hone their purpose and subsequent action.

The sheer power of talking about planning, demonstrating planning, and praising planning benefits everyone as the process of planning becomes cool—even sought after. The Career Tree plays a critical role in helping organizations create a planning culture that empowers students to figure out not just their educational and career direction, but also the roadmap to get there.

  • What does a planning culture achieve?
    A planning culture normalizes the process of planning for success. In many organizations today, having a clear picture of what you want to do when you graduate is the exception, not the norm. Imagine the power of a planning culture where students are accustomed to talk about their plan, hear what others are planning, and think about how they will make their plan a reality. In such an environment, success becomes standard.
  • A planning culture gives young people a competitive advantage.
    Young people in a planning culture organization will graduate armed with a powerful, honed plan of action to help them reach the career and life goals they have already set. This is infinitely preferable to waiting until after graduation to figure out their direction! They’ll have an undeniable edge in whatever they choose to pursue.
  • A planning culture facilitates collaboration and a desire to share your plan with others.
    In a robust planning culture environment, creating your plan is always accompanied by sharing it with others. This may include submitting the plan for public sharing of some kind so it can become an example to others of how to achieve what you want. This collaboration and open sharing will spur students on to dream bigger and to calibrate their own plan accordingly.
  • A planning culture motivates students to not just make a plan, but also to see it through.
    A goal and a plan are useless without the will and determination to take the necessary action. A planning culture creates the ongoing, proactive environment of collaboration and accountability to motivate students to stick with the plan they create.

Your planning culture will give future students a powerful reason to attend your organization, as well as helping motivate current students to stay. The result? You’ll stand out with a significant competitive advantage in the minds of parents, stakeholders, legislators, and the community.

How the Career Tree Grows Your Planning Culture

The Root System Career Plan (discussed in depth in Module 4 of the Career Tree video courses and in the Curriculum Guide, both available on the portal) is the connective tissue between the Career Tree and a powerful planning culture. By using the Career Plan as an ongoing, yearlong project and conversation, students will discover the power of planning for the future they want to achieve.

We are uniquely positioned to assist our students in planning how to connect their interests, skills, and talents to career paths that will empower them to realize their lifestyle desires. The Career Tree is an effective tool to grow a planning culture in the classroom, creating new opportunities for young people to find the branches they want to reach for. Let’s help them plan their climb!

You can read more about the planning culture concept in my best-selling book, Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations. Free book resources, including a discussion guide, are available at!

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Career Tree

About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is a best-selling author and the founder of TFS in Cleveland, Ohio, a full-service strategic consulting firm whose mission is to share and support every client's passion for making a difference.
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