Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the tag “Focus”

How to be an entrepreneur

During a talk I gave I was asked about the key lessons that I have learnt from running several businesses. I feel hardly qualified to answer, but I am very clear on a number of aspects:

  1. The cost of understanding your product/service has to be less than the immediately obvious benefit that comes from using your product/ service. People will stay with you (pitch/ marketing message/ website) for as long as their needs being solved are made immediately apparent, are sufficiently significant, and the ways in which your product/ service solves that need are clearly understandable (and the cost of understanding is less than the benefit) [adapted and evolved from SuperConnect]
  2. A CEO should be aiming to only focus on strategy and people development: your head should be 12-18mths hence at first (longer over time), and your heart should be in developing the person better than you. You are the only person in the business whose job it really is to ‘develop the insights/ perceptions/ abilities to detect patterns of change and relate them to your landscape, industries, competition and business’ [adapted from Execution]. You should always be looking to develop the person better than you to be able to take your job. If they don’t yet exist in your company, make sure you hire them. ‘Yes’ or ‘passive no’ people will kill your business.
  3. If the core transactions of your business don’t exist without funding (including your time/cost funding), then your sole focus should be on adjusting your business model to be profitable in its core operation without investment. However well-funded or visionary your plans are, the cash flow monster eats the investment and then chases and kills 99% of its prey.
  4. Read more…
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Time Management and Satisficing

Massage by Steve Woods

Massage by Steve Woods

Satisficing is defined as ‘a decision-making strategy which attempts to meet criteria for adequacy, rather than to identify an optimal solution’ – Wikipedia. It is a blend of words: satisfy and suffice.

Most tasks tend to expand to fill the time that we give to do them.

I started thinking about whether satisficing could help explain why it is sometimes possible to create some great work in the 30 minutes before a deadline and yet produce a similar quality (if more long-winded) product if you’ve given yourself a day to do it.

I wrote about whether I create these time bound situations myself to thrive better under stress. Now I wonder whether satisficing is the flip side of this. That of producing something that satisfies and is sufficient for the time given.

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Fighter Pilots and Window Fitters

http://careers.avjobs.com/careers-directory/Military-Fighter-Pilot.asp

Two completely different jobs made me think over the last month or so about focus and immediate action.

We’re in the middle of having windows fitted. In the middle of what I’ve calculated to be 88 man hours of work to replace 100yr old windows and frames with exact replicas in a 4-bed house. Now I think that’s quite impressive anyway. I could talk about expertise and professionalism. The skills built up over the years by the tradesmen in the company that we’re using. However, it’s their immediacy of action that is down-right staggering.

Day One. Minute six of them being in the house. One old window out. Two men literally walked in, accepted our offer of cups of tea, rolled out a dust sheet as they walked in and up the stairs and into the bed room and then quickly covered the closest furniture to the windows. Drills and crowbars out. Window out. Six minutes.

And this pace of immediate action has been maintained over the last 48 hours. They’re in at nine. An hour for lunch. Away at four. What’s massively noticeable compared to other tradesmen we’ve used is that everything is action focused. They only seem to take breaks by drinking the copius quantities of tea we provide them at the same time as swiftly discussing their next immediate action. Brian Tracy would be well proud. Fully frogged-up.

Then when I was running early one morning, piercing blue sky, and the white streak of a fighter jet streaking across the horizon. My thoughts about that fighter pilot’s role hit me all at once. Total focus. Absolutely no distraction. Allow in the distraction = Death. No ‘quick check of the email’ during the middle of writing that Board paper. No thinking about what to watch on telly that night. Pretty sure they’re not allowing the pressure of admin into their focus on the important activity of keeping a c.$138 million bit of metal from crashing and losing your life at the same time.

So, must remember when working: focus like a fighter pilot and work like a window-fitter…….

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