An interesting management concept was presented to me the other day that I thought was thought provoking enough to share with you. I do not know the exact source of the idea so it may be something you have heard of already, but it was new to me.

Picture five concentric circles (a bulls-eye) with you in the middle. The rings flowing out from you are labeled people, problems, issues, and opportunities–in that order. The idea behind this illustration is that you as a manager begin each day in the middle of this circle and you attempt to move from the middle outwards each day in your efforts to do your job, with the overall goal of trying to reach the outer band as frequently as possible.

The purpose for the presentation that I attended was to emphasize how important the people that surround you are when it comes to your ability to reach the outer bands–although each of the bands are worthy of discussion. People can be defined not only as your direct reports but the universe of people with whom you interact the most on a daily basis. If these people are enablers, then they help you to move on to your next band–dealing with problems. However, if your “people” hold you back, you may never get to the other bands. Therefore, it is in your best interest to make sure that you hire good people and to deal with people-issues as soon as possible so that you can turn your attention outwards depend on those people to help you in each of the other bands.

The second band consists of your daily problems. Those vary from one person to the next, but the idea being that you are always trying to move past them towards opportunity and trying not to get stuck in that band everyday.

The third band is named issues. These are potential problems or opportunities that you are watching to see if you need to consider them in your planning. An example might be a proposed change in a governmental regulation that could have a serious impact on the way you have to conduct business. Obviously, if you are stuck in the problem band everyday, you aren’t keeping track of those kinds of issues and won’t know about the consequences of the proposed governmental regulation until…you got it!–it becomes a problem, which is a little late to do any significant planning.

The last band is opportunity and it is the band we would like to spend the majority of our time in. Because if we can, it means that we have good people who are helping to deal with and eliminate problems, are keeping track of issues and thus helping in planning, and are working with us to make the most out of each opportunity.

So what do you think? I think that this idea is a useful representation and reminder of what we need to focus every day. Symbolically placing yourself in the center of this bulls-eye also is a good reminder that as a manager, everything starts with you and that people are your vehicle for getting things accomplished. And I like the outer bands as a reminder that we should not get stuck in the problem band, otherwise we are missing out on potential threats and opportunities. So all in all, this concept speaks to me. I hope it does to you to.

Lastly, just like an onion, each of these bands is more layered than it appears at face value.  However, taken as a whole, this is not a bad representation of where our heads need to be each day as managers of IT.