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What is the Wheel of Change?

The Wheel of Change (below) is a useful tool created by award-winning coach Marshall Goldsmith, and is designed for individuals to assess their particular skills and behaviours, and therefore to plan their personal development.

Wheel of Change

The wheel has two predominant axes: keep/change and positive/negative , which divide the wheel into four main quadrants:

  1. Creating - the innovative quadrant of the wheel. Consider what you add, or what you invent. How do you go outside of the behavioural norms in order to create new systems, processes, services or products? What can you do differently? On top of this, what can you add to your life which may make you more effective in your professional or personal roles? What can your team add in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their products or services? What would you like to be able to do?
  2. Eliminating - this refers to the eradication or reduction of behaviours that are outdated, ineffective/inefficient, or downright harmful. Consider what you and your team could do less of, or even remove entirely. This could be removing unnecessary bureaucracy, reducing meeting times to improve efficiency, or delegating responsibilities that should not be part of your role.
  3. Accepting - what do you need to delay or make peace with? Often, we can spend a lot of time and energy trying to change things, or through the frustration of not being able to do so, when really it is most sensible to make peace with it. Other changes may be practical and possible, but right now it is sensible to delay until you have the time or resources to do so.
  4. Preserving - what do you need to improve or maintain? Which skills or behaviours are practical, and should be kept hold of? Which are useful, but can be built upon and developed? Consider which practices have offered you success in the past - though remember that success can be judged based on many different criteria. 

Planning your Personal Development

The Wheel of Change and its various segments can help you identify the areas which you need to create, those you need to preserve, those you need to eliminate, and those that you must accept. 

  • From this assessment, you can create a personal development plan by listing the areas (perhaps in the form of a four-column table) which fall into each of the wheel's segments.

"What got you here, won't get you there."

The above words from Marshall Goldsmith himself refer to the ongoing need to continuously adapt to changes in the personal, professional, organisational or social environment. When facing new realities, preserving and developing characteristics you have identified as useful, whilst dropping those which will not be beneficial, even if they have been helpful in the past.

  1. Work on developing new behaviours and skills which will aid you in continuing forward with your progression. 
  2. Recognise and value positive traits - both within yourself and within your team - which will be beneficial in tasks to come, so that you can build upon them. 
  3. Identify and drop negative traits, skills or behaviours which can be a hindrance to you, or can cause you to be overstretched. 
  4. And finally, accept the areas which you cannot change and make peace with them.

Summary of the Wheel

  • Identify what you would like to invent or add to your repertoire of skills and traits
  • Eliminate or reduce traits which are not practical or required to reach your specific goals
  • Maintain and improve already-present traits which may continue to be of use
  • Accept that some things you cannot change at the current time and make peace with them