Founders and Focus
There are so many things that need to be done. What about all those ideas I have, I should spend some time on those too. Of course, I need to raise capital, grow our Instagram followers, and find a new co-man. Does this sound familiar? Let’s face it, founders, we are often like squirrels in search of our next nut.
The ability to focus, to discern the difference between what is interesting and what is important is the key that unlocks acceleration. But boy-o-boy is it hard. We have so many things vying for our attention. Most warranted, few, however, are the real difference makers.
Here is a little secret. You can’t do it all, and if you try, you aren’t going to be very effective. Focus starts with making hard choices. You must pick out the important from the interesting and commit to working on those few items. Let me walk this back for a moment. The focus I am referring to is not the moment to moment attention like the kind I need to write this article. Instead, I am writing about the mountain moving kind of focus. The discipline and doggedness that, if applied day after day, week after week, create real change.
How do you establish that long-term focus? I don’t believe there is one answer but, I will make a suggestion, utilize OKRs (objectives and key results). Dr. Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, developed the process. John Doerr, one of his disciples, the current champion of OKRs, wrote a book and gave a TED Talk on the subject.
At TIG, we’ve implemented a simplified OKR process. We accept that there are a lot of things that can and should be done and not enough time or bandwidth to do them. So, every 90-days, we identify the three objectives we believe, if achieved, will do more to accelerate our business than anything else, and that becomes our focus. For each of those three objectives, we establish three measurable key results that act as our leading indicators to ensure we are on target. Lastly, for each objective, we develop no more than three key initiatives that we will undertake during those 90-days. We meet weekly, track our progress and discuss the action steps each person will take. We practice this OKR process not only internally, but create OKRs for each of the brands in our program.
It doesn’t have to be OKRs, it might not even need to be a formal process. What matters is that you don’t go from shiny object to shiny object. To move your business forward, you must be focused. That requires both discipline and discernment. Discipline is necessary to prevent you from the temptation of that right or left turn when you need to stay the course. Discernment is required to ensure that you are plucking the important out of that giant mound of the interesting, grabbing hold of the things that will actually accelerate the business.
With all the brilliance and creativity that founders bring to their brands, I find that most are ill-equipped for the rigor of focus. I encourage you to find some method or some person to help you with discipline and discernment because doing so will unlock acceleration.