Business often requires a high degree of focus to ensure achievement of goals. It is very easy to become distracted and deviate from the pre-determined objectives. An exciting new discovery or a more attractive market can cause one to shift midstream to take advantage of a major opportunity. Being able to alter plans to take advantage of game changing technology or markets is one of the advantages of working in a startup or small company. The flexibility one possesses can make a difference in being first to market with novel technology. Flexibility is extremely important in recognizing and taking advantage of game changing shifts leading to product launches. However, too much flexibility can bring about a negative effect of constant switching in the programs and creating delays and cost overruns.
It is important for any entrepreneur to have flexibility but they also need to be able to focus. Focus on the product and timelines helps keep projects on track at reasonable cost. Focus prevents the team from drifting too far afield from key goals. All serious investors expect the company leaders to focus on value creation and take steps to achieve this objective.
There is a difference though in focus and tunnel vision. Having tunnel vision is like a horse with blinders. You do not see the surroundings and miss events or steps that can improve a product or shorten the development times. It is also possible to miss changes in the market place that may affect your launch or ability to capture share. The following are 4 steps may help you maintain your focus and keep the blinders off. Remember, focus not tunnel vision is the key.
1.Identify the target: Proper identification of your objectives and timelines is essential. Obtain the input from the team and ensure they are onboard with the decisions and timings. They may push back a little, but if they express strong reservations, re-evaluate the plans. The better the early discussions, the better everyone will maintain the focus and desire to meet the objectives and timings.
2.Define multiple routes: While you are planning, consider as many alternative routes and objectives as possible. Selection of the best plans along with a few alternatives may help introduce the concept of flexibility in achievement of the goals. They will visualize alternatives and take advantage of the better ones if they see a means of improving things. If they are encouraged to have tunnel vision type of focus, they may reach the goal but in a less optimal manner.
3.Monitor progress: You should always monitor progress and be willing to step in if needed. You may see ways to make major improvements or accelerate a program. The ability to see and take advantages of events that may lead to major improvements is your responsibility as well as the team’s. The team may not be aware of all the relevant information or have as much awareness of the market place. Their ability to see opportunities may be hampered due to lack of information.
4.Be vigilant for ways to improve: You may never make improvements if you never look for ways to improve. Even when something happens that can lead to a major discovery, you could miss it if you are not monitoring activities. It is essential that you seek ways to improve even if you decide not to implement the changes. In the end, you have a choice if you actually identify alternateives. You have no choice if you stick your head in the sand and fail to seek ways to improve.
You can follow Taffy Williams on Twitter by @twilli2861 and you can email him with questions or contact him via company contact info in the website. More Startup information is contained in his personal blog.