Start up office meeting

Simplicity is a Matter of Focus

Have you ever been taken through a presentation, powerpoint after powerpoint slide and found yourself being internally distracted by a growing internal voice getting louder and louder – “What is your main point?”

It is alas a human truth that there is no correlation between the amount of time that people speak and the value in what they  to say. Yet in the workplace particularly, if the speaker happens to be a manager those that speak the most have the greatest influence one way or other on the quality of ideas, what is focused on and effectiveness of people collaborating together.

It can be difficult to process all the ideas and data available on today’s organisational challenges and to be able to cut to the chase and find the main point or the main idea. In fact it is much harder (and an enviable skill for those that can) to take complexity and ambiguity and boil it down to simple concepts or a simple idea. Perhaps one of the most challenging things for leaders is to avoid over complicating matters and create a series of simple solutions to seemingly complex problems that others can understand and get behind.

But those leaders that do that provide a great service; they make ideas and creativity accessible for others to join in and share their thoughts.  You may have witnessed that in a work meeting, where the group is floundering around the issue until a well-timed clarification or simple articulation of the problem changes the focus and creates a seed change in group effectiveness and collaboration.

Cutting to the chase and asking the right questions creates focus and direct attention to where it needs to go. Creating focus has to be a critical role of leadership in any organisation. The capacity for high activity and low focus is significant in these volatile changing times where ambiguity is a challenge everywhere.

In fact in our experience, it is much easier for individuals, teams and whole organisations not to be focused and clear. Getting focus and clarity in the organisation seems to take a lot of sustained leadership effort over time.
Leadership and getting the right things done with others hinges on capturing and directing the collective attention of the organisation. In order to lead the attention as a leader, you have to do three things. You have to be able to focus your attention on the right things, you have to grab and direct the attention of others and thirdly you have to sustain that collective attention of all your stakeholders over the longer term.

Effective leaders can effectively balance the internal organisational climate and culture with the external competitive environment.  And what leaders are seen to focus on has a trickle down affect as it clarifies the focus for others in the organisation.  One of the greatest focusing tools for leaders is strategy. Organisational strategy is essentially a series of choices and represent the best guess of the desired areas of focus for the organisation.  It clarifies what matters and what isn’t important and if it can be communicated, understood and bought into by most employees, it will help clarify focus and align activities.

As you start the year why not think how you could increase the understanding and focus of the entire organisation. Just imagine if you could increase the organisation focus by 10 %  – what might the impact might be?  What could you do as a leader to increase your own focused attention?  How could you best help others put their attention on the right things? How can the organisation reach out to engage all its stakeholders on the things that are most important?