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Focus, The Unsung Hero

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Change happens all around us in every facet of our lives, faster and more invasive than ever. Often it happens to us rather than with us. Change can be exciting but it can be a disorientating, isolating experience and push us into reactionary behaviours. At a personal level this can be frustrating and demoralising, at an organisational level it can be a drain on resources and delay vital decision-making. How can we reduce the impact of this change? A strong focus. Focus is an unsung hero ready to battle with us, if only we accept its potential. Focus is the concerted effort of aligning energy, resources, strategies, and actions towards a specific set of goals or objectives. Focus remains the constant amongst change and enables us to better connect with our teams and customers by giving the clarity of who ‘we’ are as an organisation and what we offer to customers.  

Focus and Purpose 

Without a purpose an organisation loses its way and weakens its strategic aims. Without focus our purpose become spread thin and can lead to confusion among leaders, team, and hinder the establishment of a cohesive organisational identity. Attempting to excel in multiple areas simultaneously leads to mixed narratives across our organisation. When a purpose is well defined and focused it enables the creation of a clear strategy, which when communicated clearly fosters a shared understanding of our goals and priorities. 

Organisations with a well-defined focus can make informed choices about resource allocation, investment opportunities, and market expansion. This clarity enables leadership to prioritise initiatives that align with the company's core objectives, avoiding the temptation to chase after short-term gains that may not contribute to long-term success. Strategic decision-making, guided by organisational focus, ensures that a company remains on a sustainable growth trajectory. 

Focus offers protection against becoming a sprawling behemoth, where inefficiencies spring up across an organisation. Coca-Cola have recently done just this and announced that they are refocusing their products. They have halved the number of their products, moving from 400 drinks to 200 and ensuring that their product offer is focused on beneficial lines.  

Focus and Decision-Making 

Whether it's allocating budget for research and development, expanding into new markets, or enhancing customer experience, a focused approach ensures that resources are directed towards initiatives that drive growth and profitability. 

Southwest Airlines, an American low-cost carrier, was approached by Boeing with an offer to upgrade to bigger and better planes. Southwest could have designated a project team to evaluate the impact of the new planes and analyse the impact on their operating model, but that did not happen. In the meeting with Boeing Southwest were clear that they were not looking to add new aircraft to their fleet because their focus was low cost air travel and adding different types of aircraft would mean adding complexity to their business model and a requirement to hire and retrain staff. Southwest saved an unknown amount of time by having the focus of what their purpose was and the focus of their strategy to deliver that focus.  

Focus and Innovation 

When we have focused goals and priorities we create a fertile ground for generating new ideas and solutions. By limiting objectives we are better able to identify emerging trends and opportunities, allowing us to stay ahead of the curve and capitalise on market shifts.  

Focus promotes a culture of innovation and adaptability by enabling autonomy. When objectives are focused and outcomes well-defined teams, and team members, have greater autonomy to deliver in creative ways.  

Focus strengthens unity as team members have a smaller target, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated because it is easier to connect with a well-defined and focused goal. A focused organisation provides a sense of purpose for its employees, fostering a positive work environment and boosting morale. This engagement is crucial for employee retention and satisfaction, as individuals find fulfilment in contributing to a shared vision. 

Focus and Success 

Focus is not just a desirable trait; it is a fundamental driver of sustained success. It is the pruning of the organisational garden. It is the process of identifying and discarding things that are going to dampen your performance and restrict your ability to deliver. Focus is crucial to an organisation’s ability to drive alignment and cohesion across the organisation. Focus provides clarity of purpose, unlocks innovation, increases the speed of decision-making and improves employee and customer engagement, through ensuring your efforts stay targeted and aligned. Or as Jim Collins would put it, that you are all on the same bus, going the same direction, for the same reason. In a world where distractions are abundant maintaining our focus is the key to achieving excellence and staying ahead of the curve.

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