Learn how a laser focus on determining what business you're really in can have a profound effect on your efficacy leading the organization.
- Almost everything is non-essential, which means only a few things really matter. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism said that. As a senior executive, knowing what really matters will create a focal point for your work. To establish this focal point, I have three questions I want you to ask yourself on a regular basis. At the heart of all of them, you have to practice an underlying character trait, discipline. All right, here's the first question. What business are we in? This isn't about describing what you do. Rather, it's about describing the ultimate benefit of the people you serve. An orthodontist might straighten teeth but she's really in the business of building and restoring confidence so people can do great things with their lives. At the heart of it, what is it that you do, what's the ultimate aim of your work? When you have clarity on this, your team will manage through the tough times with more rigor and grit. What business aren't we in? Strategy is what you say no to. Your organization can't be all things to all people. The right answer is often to not do something. Take a look at your calendar from last week. What were the buckets of where you spent your time? That is the categories. Turn the time you spent in those categories into a pie chart, and see the percentages of where you spent your available time. I bet you spent time unproductively on things you know don't move the needle. Instead of adding something else to your to-do list, consider creating a stop-doing list and avoid touching those things at all costs. Lastly, for how long will this matter? When tackling the day-to-day decisions that occupy your time, a quick litmus test to make sure you're focused on items that will advance your organization is to think about for how long will this matter? If your answer is in years instead of months, you're on the right track. At first, it might be scary to realize how truly tactical and myopic much of your day is spent. To answer these questions, it will require deep introspection. That's where the discipline I mentioned earlier becomes so important. You have to be disciplined about creating the white space in your schedule to answer these questions on a regular basis. The payoff is that your personal discipline will spread throughout the organization. The result is innovation for the future and operational excellence for the present.