Thursday, November 9, 2017

Inflection Points of a business… focus on fewer things to insure success!

Over the past year, I have had the pleasure to work with more than a dozen different clients in my consulting practice, ranging from small technology and food startups all the way to global biotech leaders.  While the work is extremely varied, it has been fascinating to see a number of “common denominators” that I keep bumping into regardless of vertical, size of organization, or the specific nature of my assignment.  In many cases I see the importance and impact of personal leadership, at times as moments of success & acceleration, and at times as major barriers/impediments for organizational growth.  In many moments I have seen the importance of taking decisive action in the marketplace, turning strategies/concepts into “real” tactics and actions to affect the challenges/opportunities facing the business at the moment.  Today, I want to highlight a third “common denominator” that I am seeing in my consulting work, that being the need to narrow your focus (focus on fewer things) at the key moments that are inflection points of an organization and a business.

It has been exciting to be brought in by CEO’s/Founders, or boards to work on the challenges and opportunities facing the leadership teams of my clients.  Often times, the call to bring me in is precipitated by a critical event or issue facing a business and often times those businesses are at critical inflection points:

inflection point
·       1Mathematics 
A point of a curve at which a change in the direction of curvature occurs.

·       2US (in business) a time of significant change in a situation; a turning point.

At times these might be moments of rapid expansion and growth for a startup, or in another situation a major pivot for a large established company; but regardless of the specifics, the moment facing the business/organization is critical to its future success.  Reflecting back on this past year, these “inflection point” moments abound in my consulting work and I constantly find myself working with senior execs and leadership teams to narrow their scope and focus on fewer things.

Often the circumstances surrounding these “inflection point” moments are filled with complexity, and there is a tendency for senior leaders to try to focus on all of the moving parts at the same time.  While sometimes “do-able,” this scattered approach typically gives all things a little bit of attention, versus giving a few VITAL topics complete focus.  I am currently involved in an assignment where a young startup organization is in the middle of a major marketplace launch of a new product line.  While its certainly true that future innovation, expanded funding sources, team capacity/capability issues, along with a myriad of other topics are facing the senior team and the CEO, the truth is that if THIS launch fails, there is a high likelihood that the company will fail!  (A true inflection point for the company, and a moment that requires complete and maniacal focus on the new product launch and the work/actions required to insure its success. ) While this example pertains to a startup company that I am working with currently, the lesson is one that I continue to touch across my consulting practice and client base.

As you look at the business situations that you are dealing with, think about the “inflection points” facing your company/organization today and push yourself to “narrow your focus”, push aside as much of the “noise” of extraneous tasks in your day-to-day work life and maniacally “focus” on turning the “inflection point” that you are facing into a major moment of success!