A couple of years ago, I read a book that changed the way I thought about my business — and my life: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. My main takeaway was Gay’s framework for describing four “zones” that we all function within:
- The Zone of Incompetence: When you’re in this zone, you’re doing things you’re not good at — and that others are. Gay suggests we all avoid doing these tasks by delegating them to someone else or finding another workaround.
- The Zone of Competence: Here, you’re doing things that you’re good at, but that other people can do just as well. From Gay: “Successful people often discover they expend far too much time and energy in this zone.”
- The Zone of Excellence: In this zone, you’re performing tasks that you’re exceptionally skilled at — and that other people derive value from you doing. Gay explains that many people are successful and comfortable in the Zone of Excellence, which is why they never make it to the fourth and ultimate zone…
- The Zone of Genius: If you’re here, you’re spending your time and energy doing things that draw upon your unique strengths and gifts. Other people derive value from what you’re doing — and it fills you up, too, leading to great personal satisfaction.
While Gay lays out these zones for the benefit of individuals, I’ve come to realize that they apply to organizations, as well.
Over the past months, we’ve seen many different types of organizations contributing in ways that draw on their respective Zones of Genius:
- Distilleries are making hand sanitizer.
- Auto manufacturers are producing ventilators.
- Fashion brands are making face masks.
- Restaurants are feeding frontline health workers.
- Zappos is offering its world-class customer service to help anyone with anything — even if that’s just needing someone to talk to.
- IKEA has released it famous Swedish meatballs recipe. I mean, making meatballs is really what IKEA’s best at, right? 😉
Getting Your Org In The Zone
So how can you help your organization figure out its Zone of Genius — and how it can best contribute to people’s lives throughout the pandemic and our eventual shift to the new normal?
Stat by sparking an internal discussion with these questions:
- What do customers love most about our products, services, or experiences?
- What unique processes, tools, technology, or knowledge have we developed internally?
- What does our corporate culture truly value and celebrate?
- What are our employees most passionate about? (What are their individual Zones of Genius?)
And then, of course, you’ve got to identify a need to fill. Consider these two categories, which roughly align with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
- Safety: What do people need in order to stay safe and healthy?
- Sanity: What do people need in order to be happy?
What is your organization’s Zone of Genius? And how is your org contributing its unique strengths at this time? Please share below!