Tag Archives: Focus

Focus, Focus, Focus

There are always more good things that we could do than we have the capacity to do.

Strategy is the difference between doing things and doing the best things to do – and then doing them optimally.

I had the opportunity to try and help some of my colleagues over the last few weeks as they reviewed and further developed their strategies. The biggest things that hit me during the discussions were:

  1. Everyone wanted to do a lot of things, all of which are good and have great justifications.
  2. It is easy to draw up lists of things to do, and never to be worried that they get done.

Do you have a long list of things that you think that you will do?

What is your main objective? Which of the things on your list will most directly help you make progress towards your main objective?

Are you tracking your progress with those most important things, and are you doing them INSTEAD of some of the other things that you have on your list?

Remember, strategy can be defined as:

“the intelligent allocation of limited resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the competition in serving customers.”

Strategy is about recognition that there are limited resources, and maximizing what you have to achieve your objective. This means that non critical things will be dropped. This is OK. Don’t worry about dropping some things. Really. No, I mean really, don’t worry about that.

How Many Things Can You Measure?

They say that you get what you measure in an organization. You can also measure just about everything. So, how many measurements should we focus on?

When putting together business cases as a product manager, we could include a hundred metrics: from sales by customer to material costs. However, only two things mattered in deciding if it was a go or a no go: Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and Net Present Value (NPV). It was easy to compare investment opportunities when you only had to compare 2 metrics, as opposed to the 100 or so things that contributed to those metrics.

In the 4 Disciplines of Execution (http://vimeo.com/46230250) Chris McChesney says that there are diminishing returns when an organization focuses on more than three goals. I don’t know if McChesney’s research is scientifically valid, but it aligns with my personal experience.

So, how many goals do you have? Do you have too many goals upon which to practically focus?

If you have too many goals for practical pursuit at the moment, which are the most important ones? Can some of the less important goals be the subject of focus after having achieved the most important goals?