Saying No to Stay Focused

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Putting together a strategy is challenging. However, staying focused and executing well on that strategy is much more difficult and often times where failure happens.

If you want to scale and grow your business, the best thing you can do as a leader is to focus your company and teams on only three ( an absolute maximum of five ) big initiatives for the year.

When read aloud, this sounds easy. In reality, however, this level of discipline can be terribly difficult as you’ve got investors, a board, other executives within the company, agencies, partners, employees, neighbors, etc.. all telling you what they think you should be focused on.

When you start to lose focus on what you should be doing and start trying to do everything that you could be doing, the results typically fall into one of these categories:

  • Team loses site of company mission with numerous disconnected projects being worked on simultaneously. None of them are done well as resources and quality start to get stretched.
  • You start hiring to fill gaps and support all of the ideas you’re working on, which just leads to hiring people that are unclear in their objectives and throwing them into a fire fueled by a team full of confusion.
  • Executive team starts to dabble in every project and direction trying to rectify course, completely losing alignment and vision for what the company should be working on.
  • Numerous ideas and projects start, but don’t release or launch into production – or worse, they launch unfinished just to get it out
  • The business starts to react to everything rather than be proactive in its approach and delivery.
  • Ultimately, you and the company flatline or decline and only have ideas and half-finished projects to show for it.

Organize for Success

The best way to prioritize this inflow of ideas and expertise is to put them all into a simple list that you’ll organize as a team into two separate lists: Will Do and Won’t Do. The trick here is to put most of your focus on the Won’t Do category.

This exercise isn’t meant to be completed by one or two individuals, rather as an entire group and with a great deal of time allocated to it, maybe a couple of days. I personally prefer the analog of white boards and notecards / stickies for this, but a shared Asana board or Trello board would work well too.

One of the outcomes with this project is that you will identify the must haves and the nice to haves that people provide you. From here you’ll be able see your initiatives and clearly understand which ones fit within your vision, mission, and ultimately your strategy to reach those.

Ensuring that everything you’re working on fits within the Mission and Vision will enable your team and stakeholders to work on projects that move the business forward and invest them in the results. They’ll understand why they are working on projects and how they impact the business.

Otherwise, you’ll just be working on a lot of things and not really doing anything.