Desperate, obsessive focus; you really have to focus. You have to focus with all of your fiber, your heart and your creativity. ~Will Smith
Yes, I’m quoting the Prince of Bel-Air, Men in Black Will Smith, and that’s a first for me. In a Google search about focus I came across a YouTube video of Will Smith entitled, “Will Smith on Life, Purpose, Fear and Focus: Don’t Settle.”
Despite the economic climate, I’ve bumped into a number of organizations who are seeking to grow. Maybe it’s because of the economic climate that many of them are creating a growth strategy based more on broadening rather than on narrowing their focus. While that may seem like the intuitive thing to do, I’ve questioned if Will Smith might be right, and desperate, obsessive focus might be a more successful strategy?
I discovered a web consulting firm that had a history of expertise in a variety of areas including website design, email marketing, web portals and customer relationship management implementation. The challenge was that they were “good” at a lot of things, but the company’s broad and diverse approach prevented them from being truly “great” at any of them. With revenue flattening and the economy on the decline, their leadership recognized the need to refocus for growth.
Their executive team started by making an honest inventory of the company’s values, goals, vision and core capabilities. Based on identifying these critical aspects of their business, they narrowed the company’s offerings from a broad range of web services to a niche subset of cloud services for a specific technology platform. It was the area of the business that showed the greatest traction, most market opportunity and aligned most closely to their core capabilities.
The transformation was not without risk. They did realize some employee attrition as a result and the company had to make investments in new marketing and communication elements as well as several strategic hires. They even had to turn away some prospects that didn’t fit their new model, but they referred them to trusted industry partners who could better meet their needs.
Was it worth it? In the 12 months following the company’s transition, they experienced a 44% increase in revenues and have hired additional employees to keep up with demand for services. They opened another office and continue to recruit to build their team of highly-specialized cloud experts.
Given this and many other similar examples, I still wonder why so many leaders seem to have a fear of focus? Will Smith went so far as to say, “There is no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts from Plan A.” So why not focus with all of our fiber, our heart and our creativity? All we may have to lose is a lot of excess baggage that weighs us down and slows our growth.