n. pl. fo·cus·es or fo·ci (-sī′, -kī′)

1.a. A point at which rays of light or other radiation converge or from which they appear to diverge, as after refraction or reflection in an optical system: the focus of a lens. Also called focal point.

b. See focal length.

2.a. The distinctness or clarity of an image rendered by an optical system.

b. The state of maximum distinctness or clarity of such an image: in focus; out of focus.

c. An apparatus used to adjust the focal length of an optical system in order to make an image distinct or clear: a camera with automatic focus.

3. A center of interest or activity. See Synonyms at center.

4. Close or narrow attention; concentration.

At the end of the year, our team leaders plus the best small business coaches in the world, spent an abbreviated day working on strategic focus for 2014.  Having just experienced a substantial uptick in sales due to an increased Marketing spend, maturity of the Sales force, and most clearly, God’s favor, we realized our greatest looming constraint was Production capacity.

Our Thematic Goal was cast for the foreseeable future:  Build Production capacity to meet increasing sales and work off backlog.  Or in other words, if we do nothing else in the next twelve months, we need to increase Production capacity to at least double capacity from 2013.  The early results show that concerted focus from every area of the company is turning the tide.  We averaged only 6.5 jobs produced per week in 2013 and are averaging 10.3 jobs per week in the first nine weeks of 2014 (+158% YOY).

The only problem is that our Sales team is averaging 10.4 jobs sold per week with strong momentum to sell more as increased Marketing efforts find their stride.  We are happy with the progress made, but our initial target of doubling capacity (To 13 jobs a week) has not been realized and our likely new target (14-15 jobs a week) is still a dim light on the distant horizon.

A few weeks ago, we allocated key resources to hire a lean process champion for the company.  The ink is barely dry on our agreement and he has already been handed several dozen prospective projects and initiatives to look into.  We actually meet this morning to prioritize and help him understand where to focus his incredible ability to concentrate and execute.  After a meeting with him to review his burgeoning list and a clarifying phone call to end the week, I believe it all comes down to one thing… Focus.

Everything we move to the top of the list, must intend one simple thing: Build Production capacity to meet increasing sales and work off backlog.

The power of a Thematic Goal or rallying point is the focus it brings.  Studies show that:

  • If you focus on a couple of things, you’ll accomplish them.
  • If you focus on several, you’ll accomplish less.
  • If you focus on many, you’ll likely accomplish none of them.

Today, a few of our leaders will look at our meandering list of opportunities, run them through the gauntlet of the Thematic Goal and a list of strategic filters, and the answers will come easily.

  • Are you clear on the one thing you must accomplish in the next twelve months if you do nothing else?
  • Are those you lead in your business, organizations, or home operating with that kind of clarity?
  • Do you currently have a thematic goal or strategic filters in place to help clarity and bring focus?
  • What do you need to do to get that kind of focus for those that you love and lead?