By M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant
Note: This article was previously published in Compass Points March 2006.
Why is focus so important to success in our businesses? We’ve all heard of the person who wanted to clean off his desk, and couldn’t imagine why it wasn’t done by the end of the day. When he began to think about what he had done, he listed the following: On his way to his office to clean off his desk, he noticed that the light in the back hall was on, so he went to turn it off. When he got to the back hall, he saw that the mail had not been opened, so he picked it up to open. After he opened the mail, he took the discarded envelopes to the trash and realized that the basket was full and should be emptied. As he took the basket out to empty, he saw the light bulb in the garage was out, so he put the basket down and searched for a new bulb. Etc., etc…. You can easily fill out the rest of the story.
What does this story tell us about focus? By not focusing on the specific goals he wanted to accomplish, our person really achieved very little of what he set out to do. How do companies lose their way? Unfortunately, it isn’t all that hard. There are multiple opportunities for us to stray from our chosen path.
One example: A customer may call with a request which is close to, but not exactly a part of, what we do: a product or service similar to our existing products which will require re-design, development, testing and debugging, or which may require investing in new or different technology or training in order to be able to effectively perform.
If we continue, we may stray beyond our capabilities. And, we may have to invest time, people and money in developing products or services which do not fit our strategies.
Can we avoid distractions while taking advantage of real opportunities which come our way? We need a process that reviews opportunities which arise outside our core businesses, so they may be evaluated on a consistent basis. This process must focus on our strategies on which we base our business, and allow the introduction of new opportunities while rigorously evaluating each for its impact on the company’s future.
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M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: email@example.com
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