This concept has been written about quite a bit but I really value this concept when helping people focus within organizations.
The concept of “Circle of Concern” is from the The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey,. Simon & Schuster 1992. I haven’t been able to determine the true source of the adapted version below (if you know, please message me!).
Within any organization, there are:
- Problems you have complete control over resolving
- Problems you have influence to solve
- Problems you have concerns about
This seems pretty obvious. Yet, a pattern often emerges when trying to make organizational growth…
The top problems/challenges/issues raised in many of my training courses are in the “concern” category. This makes sense from the perspective of that problem (sometimes huge elephant topic in the organization) causes us the most pain. For example, “our executives demand multi-tasking”, “our company is organized to behave as groups only”, etc. Often with the problem statement, I hear the following sentiment: “what’s the point; we can’t do anything to fix that”. Yep, sometimes you can’t but that doesn’t mean there is not a ton of problems you can do something about.
I know it’s easier to focus on other people’s issues. I know it’s easier to understand the greater impact of those concern topics. Yet, that puts everyone in this “victim” or “passive” state in the organization. Start with you first.
What if you spent time focused on all of the problems in the area that you can control? Sure, maybe they don’t have as big of an immediate value/benefit as that concern topic but improvement is improvement. What if that improvement accumulates within the control, which will have a bigger impact on the problems you influence. Maybe, just maybe, that accumulation in control increases what you control and begins to expand what you influence.
Absolutely, highlight/discuss those concerns. Then focus on what’s next. There is so much right in front of you that may not feel like the biggest bang for your buck but ignoring what you could be doing – certainly won’t help those areas of concern either.
What do you control that needs improvement?