The Three Circles of Success

The Three Circles of Success

Success is driven by three things – your passion, your talent, and your economic capacity. Where these three areas overlap is what we at OKP call your ‘One Big Thing’.

By focusing on your One Big Thing you can best position yourself for success regardless of the obstacles you face. The magic of understanding your One Big Thing is that once it’s identified, you can help it to grow by increasing the area where your passions, skill-set and investment potential overlap. While this theory was proposed by Jim Collins as a development tool for businesses, brainstorming this concept is a useful exercise for non-profits as well.

To identify your One Big Thing, get a large piece of paper or whiteboard and draw three overlapping circles.

In the first circle write a list of the things your organisation is passionate about. This is no doubt covered extensively in your mission statement, your marketing materials, and all of the communications you carry out. It’s important to brainstorm this first of all from a high-level perspective, but then also accounting for the passion of your staff and volunteers.

In the second circle you will define your organisations talents by answering the question – what can your organisation be ‘best in the world’ at? This requires an honest assessment of your skills and resources, the scope of your organisation’s work, as well as your direct competitors.

The third circle is the most difficult to brainstorm, however it is absolutely crucial to an organisation’s success. Understanding your economic drivers – that is, what motivates your donors to give – will allow you to raise the funds you need to achieve your goals. What is it about your cause that inspires donors to contribute? This may not overlap entirely with the focus of your organisation – you may find that many donors are truly invested in a small portion of your work.


Now, to find your One Big Thing, you will need to write down all of the projects and programs you are running and use the things written in the three circles as a checklist. The more ticks next to a project or program, the closer it will sit to the centre of the circles. The one with the most ticks is your One Big Thing.

Identifying the projects that you are best positioned to work on will help you to focus your resources and achieve your goals faster and more effectively. It will inform your marketing and communications strategy and help you better communicate with your supporters about the areas where your passion and talent, and their motivations align.

This exercise might be simple, but the insight it provides is powerful, making it an essential first step for any organisation looking to get on the fast-track success and thrive in a highly competitive environment.

Contact OKP on:       1300 721 199

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