One of the biggest "Focus Costs" is a lack of clarity. From the small: "Did they say that they wanted milk in their coffee?", to the large: "I don't really understand the company strategy!"
"SO WHAT?", you might think, those things don't really matter. Au contraire; each time there is confusion, things suffer and the likelihood of success is decreased.
In the case of the coffee, the person may get the order wrong, thus making the other person a little unhappy. Alternatively, they may choose to head back to the office to clarify what exactly was asked for, thus adding time taken for such a small task.
In the case of the company strategy, this has far wider implications. It means that employees don't know the direction they should be heading in, they can't make connections between the work they do and the vision of the company, and they can get frustrated. Ultimately, this could end up with them undertaking activities that are counterproductive to the company or, even worse, inventing their own interpretation of the strategy. At the very least, they'll take considerably longer to do things and will be less motivated. The same go for customers and suppliers who may just walk away because of the confusion.
More often than not, employees, suppliers and customers won't be vocal in mentioning that a strategy isn't clear (they either can't be bothered or feel embarrassed to raise it) and so the fog of confusion persists and permeates.
It takes a strong leadership to constantly check that their strategy is clear and understood. The questions they should be asking themselves are:
- Do we have a clear, concise mission statement?
- Do we have a focused strategy that is aligned to the vision?
- Do we have measurable outcomes that can be used to judge success of the strategy? (SMART* goals would be ideal here and no goals should be contradictory to each other)
- Are all our key stakeholders brought into these and can articulate them in a similar manner?
- Can the vision and strategy be articulated in a simple way that any lay person would be able to understand?
- Do we have a plan to communicate the strategy internally and externally? (this will be ongoing as you can never talk about your strategy enough)
- Does the strategy flow through the whole business so that all team activities, objectives and projects can clearly be linked back to it?
In our numerous years working with countless organisations, we see a great many unclear strategies and the pain they are causing our clients. We have worked with a range of senior teams, using a range of techniques to quickly ensure that all the above is in place.
Our work really helps unlock value and remove confusion to power our clients forward.
If you are interested to find out more and test just how clear your strategy is, then drop us a line. After all, you can never get enough focus!
* Good old SMART goals; you'll find varying definitions but we at Shiageto distill this as Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound goals