Targeted Organizational Development


The Lotus Diagram

When trying to manage all the details of life or your company or your job, one of the most effective tools I have found is the Lotus Diagram. Once complete, you will have, on one page, a complete picture of all you have on your plate. Things get easier to manage if you can see the complete picture.

The Lotus Diagram and, simply summarized, it is collection of rectangles that can be populated with tasks or activities or ideas.

The Lotus Diagram

The Lotus Diagram

It looks like a jumble when you first look at it. But focus on the very center. That white rectangle in the center is the start of your Lotus. What you put there becomes the anchor to what you put in the surrounding rectangles. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s put your job title in the center.

Next, to diminish the clutter of so many rectangles, let’s look at just those rectangles that immediately surround the center.


This center rectangle is where you put the major areas that you, in your job, are responsible for. It is not necessary to fill in every surrounding rectangle. But try. And if you find you have more responsibilities than rectangles available you can split rectangles to accommodate the overflow.

NOTE, it should be an early warning sign if you need more than eight rectangles to record your areas of responsibility. It may suggest the need to delegate or eliminate some work just so you can get the important jobs done. (How do you prioritize what the most important tasks are? Glad you asked. See the CPR form in the Resources menu.)

When this rectangle is completed it might look something like this:


With the center and immediately surrounding rectangles now filled out, move the title in each of the responsibility rectangles to the center rectangle in the surrounding collection of 8 rectangles (color coded to match). The diagram will now look like this:


Finally, fill in the tasks associated with each area of responsibility.

This will take some time (schedule 40 minutes). But, once done, you will have a complete picture of your job (or life or company, depending on what you put in the center rectangle). From here, you prioritize work, note what takes too much time and where you need to put time. You can do a lot to manage your day with a picture of your day.

Other ways to use the Lotus diagram include putting your life’s Mission in the center rectangle or your company’s Mission. Share your work with your boss, your family or management team. It puts everyone on the same page.

Ellen Colodney