Core Concepts: Important To/Important For


A way to help describe both how someone wants to live and a reasonable balance between the components that make-up Important To and Important For. Forms the foundation of all of the other work. As the core concept this is at the center of planning and practice. All of the tools that follow are intended to be used to

  • Learn more and inform ourselves about Important To;
  • Find a better balance between “to” and “for”
  • Discover how to implement what is learned


We need to always ask what do we know before we ask what should we do? As people build their competency in thinking this way, all conversations about addressing issues begin with what do we know about what is Important To and what is Important For and the balance between them. Remember that Import To is learned through a discovery process. The tools we have found most useful are available here.

Stories and Examples

The following people and their stories have been chosen to illustrate examples of how the tools might be used with varying people and circumstances. Each person is introduced using one page profiles. Remember that one page profiles are developed using the discovery tools.

Becoming a Person Centered System

A variety of agencies in many different locations have engaged with us in a set of efforts that have evolved over time. At each location the goal has been consistent: to create person centered systems that support person directed services. The learning that has taken place from working toward that goal has changed the approach. What follows is a brief overview of the evolution of the approach and the key lessons learned. Because this is a brief overview, much is left out and will be described in subsequent publications. Some of the central ideas of the effort are:

Changes in rules and practice should be driven by learning what is and is not working in supporting individuals.

Using a small set of value-based skills at all levels of the system will drive change throughout the system.

Using these skills in conjunction with selected quality management and organizational development tools will improve quality of life and increase organizational effectiveness and efficiency.