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When we (Sarah Gornall and I) decided to write a book what we wanted was to share our ideas about the use of models and diagrams in coaching. So we came up with a how-to format using around 90 models, about half our own originals and the rest well established psychological and coaching models and theories.

Enter Routledge, who became our publisher and who are (absolutely appropriately) punctilious about copyright. We set about seeking permission to use the diagrams from the relevant creators, instigators and rights holders. We made some lovely links along the way and encountered real generosity and enthusiasm to share and develop ideas.

And it transpires that it is more complicated to gain permission to use a diagram than just to report the idea or use some of the words of the creator. The model or diagram is the real core of the concept and is often closely guarded.

Now, Sarah and I have often shared with clients the concept of tasks being categorised by urgency and importance and have shown a grid with all possible combinations of the 3 words: urgent, important and not. I’m not drawing if for you here for reasons which will become apparent. This grid appears in the fabulous and famous work of Stephen Covey and we have been wont to call it the Covey Grid or the Four Quadrants. Many’s the time I’ve marked a grid out with gaffer tape in a car park and had senior executives standing in the different squares explaining what a particular type of work is like and what proportion of their time it takes. So we described a grid in the book and then wrote to the Franklin Covey Company for permission to reproduce and describe the model referencing them and Stephen Covey. They refused!

Bother! I’m sure I’ve seen this reproduced in lots of other places. What happened there then?

But the great results is that we had to think for ourselves! By this time we were close to publication and keen to keep the fundamental idea in the book even if could not use the well-known model. So we began to discuss what the idea means to us, how we have used it, what the 4 segments represent. And as we did this we focused on the not urgent and not important area. Why would intelligent people do things in this category? And it began to dawn on us that tasks in that domain are serving some other purpose. What’s going on when I break off from a significant task and have a little trawl through LinkedIn? Or walk round the garden? Or call a friend? We came to realise that what is going on is a release or refresh, a change of state and energy renewal. So this area is not worthless. Indeed it serves an important revitalising purpose. And this was born The Do-It Disc. Thank you Franklin Covey.

Any by the way, the idea of tasks being urgent/important came from a speech by Dwight Eisenhower. Or maybe not…who knows where he got it from? (He credited an unnamed originator before him). There’s nothing new. Perhaps.