Be Unapologetically Focused

Everyone we know who has hit it big in showbiz has been so focused that they were scary. We’re talking so zeroed in on their goal and how to reach it that the rest of their lives were just a blur to them. The following article is one of the best ways we’ve seen this phenomenon put into words…in away mere mortals like us can learn from:

strategymap

Why Having a Great Strategy Matters
by William Allen

We will never have enough time or resources to solve the problems we want to solve. To be successful, we need to focus, and that’s why great organizations have strategies.

Strategy is a chronically overused word, thrown around with such regularity that its meaning is nearly lost.  (When you are told you should do something because it is “strategic,” be skeptical: it is too often code for “just do what I say.”)

Yet a strategy, when properly understood and implemented, focuses the team on a core problem and gives you a framework to prioritize limited resources.

Think of when you’re hammering a nail: when you hit the nail on its head, you focus all the force of the hammer’s swing onto a single point – the sharp end of the nail. This small surface area between the sharp end and the wood results in a great deal of pressure, driving in the nail.

By focusing on fewer things, you reduce the surface area where your forces (time, money, people) are applied, creating greater pressure without needing more resources. That’s how nimble teams compete with the Goliaths of their industry, having an outsized impact in a resource-constrained world.

The origin story of most great companies clearly shows this power of focus. Think of how Amazon mastered the business of selling books before selling nearly everything, Google mastered search before driverless cars, and Apple mastered the personal computer long before the iPhone.

Yet what seems obvious in theory — that a strategy that focuses is helpful — is hard to implement in practice. We constantly hear the siren song of preserving optionality, of the multitude of areas where we could apply our talents, of the revenue streams available to us if we only entered that new market.

Developing and implementing a strategy means battling our natural tendencies to say “yes” to everything, denying the very real appeal of being a generalist. It requires constant iteration and willpower, tying ourselves to the mast to keep us focused on the goals at the horizon. As you develop your own strategy to focus your resources, a few questions to keep in mind:

1. What problem are you solving?

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