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What is Circles and Soup?

Circles and Soup is an exercise teams use to the identify the parts of their work they can control directly, the factors they can influence, and those which are outside of their control. Once these factors are sorted, the team can then make better decisions about how to prioritize their efforts.

The technique, introduced by Diana Larsen and frequently used in action review meetings, works by drawing three large concentric circles on a whiteboard. The team then writes down the various factors involved in their work and places them within the appropriate circle:

  • Inner circle: factors the team controls directly
  • Middle circle: factors the team can influence, but doesn't ultimately control
  • Outer circle: The soup. Those factors outside the team's control and to which the team should be ready to respond.
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Related Glossary Terms
Circles of Influence, Force Field Analysis

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