SAP’s Signature Napkin Series #2: The Futurist – Dr Graeme Codrington
Following is a blog authored by SAP as a responsive musing on the napkin’s content:
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – The Importance of Focus in Business Leadership
There are a lot of words that are wielded around the business world. Words like motivation and team work, leadership and effort. But there’s one word that enables all these other concepts to work, and that word is focus. Hard work is vital to the success of a business but all of that hard work is a waste of time if it’s not channelled in the right direction.
In the constantly evolving world of business there’s a lot of talk about multi-tasking and often people are involved with numerous projects that require their attention at any one time. This can result in a lot of projects being half completed at a mediocre level, as opposed to fewer projects being completed at a better standard. Studies show that the average worker spends 41% of their time on tasks that either aren’t important, or can be handled just as effectively by somebody else.
Key business figures need to be able to focus on the most vital parts of their enterprise. It requires an ability to constantly review and assess, focusing on the areas that need their attention and recognising the ones that can be attended to another time, or by another person. The skill is being able to recognise and prioritise these tasks, utilising a list of ‘must do’ tasks for every day and shifting your focus as required. Discipline is the key here, as is knowing your limits and being able to delegate and manage your time effectively. The Pareto Principle, or the ‘80/20 rule’ is a useful concept for time management as by working out “which 20% of your time produces 80% of your business’ results, you can spend more time on those activities”.
Prioritising tasks is unique to every business, although there are some key areas which all businesses need to focus on; customers, products, money and people. Customers are the back bone of any business and listening to them is critical and to keep them happy the product or service needs to be continuously assessed. The flow of money, both in and out of the company needs to be monitored and future needs anticipated. And business leaders need to be able to match the right people to the right tasks. Employee performance needs to be monitored so that issues can be foreseen before they arise.
Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, discipline and focus allow you to effectively use all those other important tools. By focusing your energy on the urgent tasks that can’t, and shouldn’t, be put off you can reclaim your working day and know that all your hard work is being utilised in the right places.
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