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Circles of Influence

Object of Play
The first step of achieving your business goal is always the most difficult. Where do you start? Who can you talk to? Is there anybody that will support you in your risky journey? Fortunately, Deb Colden’s Circles of Influence can help you reach your action potential by identifying connections that will lead you to success. Take advantage of this game to expand your network and turn your thoughts into plans.

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play
1. At the top of a large poster or white board, define your goal. This could be anything from finishing a task by the end of the day to increasing your sales before the end of the year. Write what you want to accomplish in one sentence to keep it concise.

2. Draw two large circles next to each other, putting a check mark in the center of the left one and a smiley face in the middle of the right one. Label the circles as followed:

  • Left circle: “Circle of the Task”
  • Right Circle: “Board of Directors”

3. Distribute pens and plenty of sticky notes to each person.

4. Focus on “Circle of the Task.” This is designated for people who could help you reach your goal or provide contacts of people in their network who could assist you. Ask participants to write names of people belonging to the category on their sticky notes and to post them on the edge of the left circle. Avoid generalizations, such as “somebody from Company X,” or “a professor.” By using specific names, you can transform vague ideas into tangible actions and identify who will help you excel toward your goal. Also, it will get you thinking about specific questions to ask them so you can get exactly what you need in an efficient manner.

5. As a team, reflect on and note how connecting with each person could be advantageous. Who benefits from the relationship? Who knows other potentially helpful people? Why is the interaction important? Focus on ways you can provide a win-win (give something, get something) experience to the people on your task circle.

6. Move on to the “Board of Directors.” This circle is for people who will help you no matter what, and who you can rely on to provide encouragement and advice. These personal acquaintances are perfect to speak with when you don’t know where to start or want to practice forming focused questions. As before, ask players to write names on their sticky notes and to post them on the edge of the circle.

7. Collaborate to uncover ways to use the support and advice of your “Board of Directors.”

8. Work together to identify who to speak with first from your “Circle of the Task.” Who is the easiest person to talk to with the best return? If going straight to your “Circle of the Task” is too intimidating, then select someone from you “Board of Directors” who can calm you down and provide advice. These people want you to succeed, and can help you identify where to start. Also, look for two-fers: people who belong to both circles. These are valuable connections, as they can assist you with the task and provide support.

9. After speaking with people on your “Circle of the Task,” make sure to ask, “Is there anyone else I should talk to?” This will encourage them to share their networks to help expand yours. When you return to the chart, attach a circle to the person’s sticky note, representing their connections. This will organize your potential contacts so you can see your expanded sphere of support.

Play Circles of Influence Online

You can instantly play Circles of Influence online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com; simply email the game link to your staff to invite them to play. In the game, the image to the right will be used as the “game board.” As with the in-person version, the two circles organize your “Circle of the Task,” and “Board of Directors.” You will see two icons in the top left corner, which represent people in your network:

  • Green person – in your “Circle of the Task”
  • Blue person – in your “Board of Directors”
  • Blue stars – goals

To add the icons to the game board, simply drag them to their respective sections and describe what they represent. Players online are able to decide on multiple goals, symbolized by blue stars. As facilitator, engage your participants to discover which of the goals are most important.

Everyone can edit the placement and description of each icon, which can be seen in real time. Collaborate through the chat facilitator to build from each other’s ideas. When finished, the results will be organized in a spreadsheet for you to carefully analyze in order to get the most out of the game.

Strategy
Write names of people even if you do not personally know them or if you believe they will be difficult to schedule a time to talk with. Doing so will get you thinking about that person’s network, which can be just as valuable.

Key Points
This game involves visual organization and extensive collaboration to identify people who will help you move toward your goal. By writing out specific names, you can turn potential connections into beneficial relationships and form a more focused approach on how to achieve your objective. Get the job done by expanding your network while utilizing the support of those who know you best.

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