Some Perspective on the Four Quadrants of GTD

Aug 11, 2010

The GTD folks have put together a tremendous assessment that gives you some insight into your proficiency. It’s a series of a questions that ask you anything from basic daily management stuff (your runway) to much higher level stuff (your higher level horizons – purpose, vision, etc). For example, one question is “I keep up with my workload” and you rate it on a scale from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. This is a runway type question. Another example, at a higher level, “The key areas of my work and life are in balance.” I’ve included a screen shot example below. It takes you through a series of questions like this and at the end gives you an assessment. With this, you get a great description of your results, as well as some ideas on how to improve in certain areas.

There are four quadrants. Visionary/Crazy Maker, Captain and Commander, Responder/Victim, Implementer/MicroManager. The X axis identifies your “Control”. This is essentially how you manage your daily activities. The Y axis identifies your “Perspective”, or the higher level horizons. The key is to have the proper mix of both.

Like with any 2 x 2 chart, the ultimate goal is to get to the top right quadrant, this being Captain and Commander. Getting here means you are working on the right things that align with your Purpose, Vision and Goals. This shows you what the quadrants are:

Here’s the key. You will bounce around this chart. And, no, I don’t mean every couple of months. You will bounce around daily. You may get to the office and have your day planned, your focused on moving your key initiatives forward (Captain/Commander), then all of a sudden your boss calls and wants you to present an update on a project you’re working on – in 30 minutes! You move down to the bottom left quadrant (Responder) to get this accomplished. At the end of that meeting, your boss asks you to put some thoughts together on another project that may be coming up (Visionary). You get the picture.

If you read my last post about Perfection, this is really a follow up to that. You can’t be hard on yourself. You will move from one area to the next. As I said in that post, it’s all about having the confidence to get back to a place where you’re working on the right things.

I’ve included a link below if you’d like to take the assessment. You might be surprised at where you’re at. The quadrant above is actually my history of taking the assessment. Although I’d love to be at the top right (Captain/Commander) all the time, it just won’t happen. That’s the beauty of your work and life. We’ll be presented challenges every day that test our abilities. Do you have the confidence to weather the storm? 


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