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The PEAK model: getting clarity on action

Everyone loves a model. We certainly do. This is a super simple format to help gain clarity on a problem and devise a plan of action.


What do we want to achieve and why? It’s made up of two parts:

  • The what. What is the effect we want to achieve? Gaining clarity on this is critical for all team members. This may be given to you (direction from above) or you may have to figure it for yourselves. A common understanding on exactly what a team and committing to is critical before action occurs.

  • The why. The why ensures our activity feeds a higher objective. If our actions don’t feed into organisational goals, why are we doing them? The why is also crucial to fuel intrinsic motivation in our team. Far more effective than extrinsic motivators (carrots and sticks), aligning oneself with purpose drives intrinsic motivation (along with autonomy and mastery as explained in Pink’s Drive).

End State

What does success look like? Being clear on the end goal enables us to measure outcomes, and our progress towards these outcomes.


What is the situation and how does it affect us? Gaining situational awareness on the environment and factors at play, are critical before devising a plan. By considering the facts, assumptions and boundaries we're operating in, we start to build a framework from which we can create a plan. Some of the below models are useful handrails in exploring these factors:

  • Internal / external

  • SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats

  • PESTLE: political, economic, social, tech, legal, environmental

  • Porter’s 5: potential entrants, existing competitors, buyers, suppliers, alternative products/services

  • McKinsey 7Ss: structure, strategy, systems, skills, style, staff, shared values

For each factor identified, it’s important to drive down into the detail to arrive at a useful deduction for planning by asking ‘so what?’ or ‘why?’ until you arrive at a second or third order deduction.

This ‘understand’ phase is typically overlooked or rushed but holds the key to efficient subsequent execution. As humans we are action-oriented. We like 'to do', have a bias for action and tend to getting on with a solution before we’ve properly dissected and understood the problem, and what we need to achieve. P-E-A are therefore the most important elements to consider and agree before moving to K.

Key Actions

Only once we have a strong awareness of the situation, should we start to develop a plan. How are we going to achieve the End State? This should be broken down into discrete and clear actions with people and deadlines assigned to each. Any support required should be identified and then teams hold one another to account in the delivery.

Business application

  • Structure to approach a problem when we’ve been given the Purpose (normally as a task from our boss - make sure you have the why!)

  • Structure to approach a problem when we haven’t been given the Purpose. In this case, switch from PEAK to APEK. First get Awareness of the situation before look at defining your Purpose or End State.

  • Structure for meetings:

    • Purpose. What is the meeting being held for and why?

    • End state. What needs to be achieved by the end of the meeting?

    • Awareness. What’s the context? Is there any pre-reading or information required ahead of the meeting?

    • Key actions/agenda? What topics are we covering or decisions need to be made? This section can be subsequently filled with actions agreed in the meeting.

Our work at Albany Peak

The PEAK model is a key element of our execution methodology. If you'd like to learn more, book a call.


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