This is another mental knowledge-structure. It may seem obvious to you or it may not. In either case, I feel making knowledge-structures conscious is important.
Essentially, a level of analysis is what it says, depending on what level you are looking at the same thing can mean different things. In Getting Things Done, one of the most powerful models Allen describes is the “altitude” model. It is this:
- 50,000 + feet: Life (Purpose)
- 40,000 feet: Three- to five-year visions
- 30,000 feet: One-to two-year goals
- 20,000 feet: Areas of responsibility (3-6 months)
- 10,000 feet: Current projects (weekly)
- Runway: Current actions (daily, max)
Here’s an example: Say I’m calling a prospect and that works right at the runway, current projects and areas of responsibility levels, but when I hit the 30,000 foot level I get snagged. Maybe the snag is that I don’t want to be doing whatever I’m doing; maybe I want to be a lumberjack! Alignment on all these levels of analysis is one of the things that Steve Pavlina stresses.
Another example of levels of analysis is this blog entry. For example, you can go to the level of syntax and make sure all the sentences make sense. You could go to the level of words and make sure all the words are spelled correctly. You could jump to the paragraph level and check the argument put forward and its proof. You could even jump to the level of the blog and check out how this entry fits into the whole thing.
Another very important place where this model is helpful is in resolving conflict in relationships. Usually, if everybody involved in the conflict is getting emotional, they are probably looking at the wrong level of analysis in the relationship. Odds are that the conflict is not at the level of what actually happened, but at the level of expectations and/or values.