Spheres of Influence and Control

2 Oct



At a regional meeting a couple of weeks ago, my EWB coach over here (Erin) gave a presentation that included a portion about understanding our spheres of influence and control.  I believe this idea was first introduced in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (at least that’s where I first saw it).  I thought Erin’s choice of this subject was insightful and that her presentation was very effective and well aimed, so I borrowed the idea and added it as part of the content for our monthly staff meeting at the Kpandai Ministry of Food & Agriculture (MoFA) district office.

There are so many obstacles to making progress over here (floods, power outages, malaria, bush fires, corruption, lack of healthcare, unreliable phones, bad roads, crop diseases, etc…) that I think it is totally understandable why there seems to be a prevalent culture of fatalism when it comes to dealing with challenges.  On the other hand, I think the prevailing attitude in Canada and other ‘developed’ countries is that we can do pretty much anything we want if our will is strong enough, which is certainly not true either. 

During the staff meeting, I introduced the spheres concept and then we broke the staff into three groups to brainstorm obstacles and solutions with respect to the second half of the Block Farm program, which is the big focus for our office for the rest of the year.  After the brainstorming, the groups categorized the obstacles and solutions into things we can control and influence, and those that we can’t do anything about.  Previous staff meeting were low on participation and the group really seemed to like the new format.

We borrowed the District Assemblies computer projector for the meeting – the first and only projector in the District.  This was the first time our office had used it and it was a big hit.  In the picture above, most of the meeting attendees are standing under a PowerPoint projection of the Spheres of Control and Influence with the post-it-notes that we brainstormed overlaid on the wall and arranged as per our group discussion. 

It was a great meeting and everyone had positive things to say during the round table wrap-up.  During the breaks throughout the day, I showed clips from the movie Food Inc and then at the end of the day I showed the whole movie to the half of the staff who stuck around.  The movie stimulated some great discussion about the similarities and differences between farming in Ghana and in the USA/Canada.

Over here people often say ‘small-small’ to refer to gradual progress.  This week I think we made some significant ‘small-small’ progress towards  working better as a team and focusing on taking actions to work on things we can control and influence. 🙂

And just so you don’t get the idea that I am hiding out in the office and not getting my hands dirty, here are a couple of pictures from early in the week of me going out to survey and take pictures of a farmer’s flooded maize (corn) field with on of the Agriculture Extension Agents.

DSC01460 DSC01467

One Response to “Spheres of Influence and Control”

  1. Penny Heaslip October 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    To all of you following Marks journey…I just watch at 2:PM on CTV a documentary called Wheels of Change. This project is supported by Cadbury Chocolate company. They are trying to get 5000 bicycles into Ghana for students and farmers to use in the rural areas.

    Check out the Utube video clip

    or go to the Bicycle Factory for more information


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: