business losing focus

Business owners are on the firing line, making it happen, and trying to realize ever more difficult goals. Far too often, for every one step forward, they also take one, two or even three steps backwards by making that most seductive and dangerous of mistakes: They lose focus.

Losing Focus

Owners are best able to realize challenging goals through a continuous, unrelenting focus on their most important 3-5 goals and priorities.

Unfortunately, they are constantly being bombarded with data, information, suggestions, programs, initiatives, ideas, and issues. With all that input, lists of priorities and goals grow to 10, 12, even 15. It is devilishly tricky to keep the required focus. We’ve all heard the lines:
1. “ … and just one more thing …”
2. “We can get it done quickly; it is not a big deal.”
3. “Everything is an ‘A’ priority because everything is important.”

  • Burnout
  • Financial difficulties
  • Employee turnover
  • Government regulations
  • Competition

But the sad reality is that no individual and no company have the attention span, time and ability to properly focus on more than three to five key priorities at any one time.

The challenging part for leaders is that each goal, each priority, each initiative, in and of itself, is good, useful, and may be absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, when combined, all these good things become too much and unmanageable for us.

In his book, How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins discusses exactly this issue. For him, the second stage of decline in dying companies is “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” These failing companies try to do everything possible to correct their increasing weakness and irrelevance in the marketplace. But, this “pursuit of more” just weakens the company further, diffusing the leadership and company focus away from the essential issues in the business.

It’s Gotta Hurt
In order to keep the focus …

• Owners have to limit their goals and priorities to the vital 3-5.
• Then, go and accomplish them.
• Then, establish the next essential three to five goals.

It’s easy to do in theory; it’s simple to write about. In reality, however, it hurts. Business owners have to make tough decisions and decide whether or not to do something that can be useful in order to focus on more important goals. What gets excluded might be the cherished goal of a senior manager, or it might be the most important priority of a senior staff person. Still, if it is not one of the vital three to five goals, it needs to be cut.
• “But, we are leaving something on the table.”
• “We are under-estimating our team. We can do it all; we just will work harder.”
• “All these priorities need to be done.”

All these statements may be true. But the overriding goal of the best leaders remains the same: Focus on fewer in order to get more done.

Share Your Thoughts

What are the challenges you face that makes your business lose focus? Please write a comment, I’d like to hear your take

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