Focus

I define Focus in a business sense, as the finite amount of attention and collective energy that can be committed by an individual or organization. Understanding the limitations of individuals and organizations can assist organizational leaders to plan accordingly, and to avoid stretching themselves and their organizations too thin. Energy is not measured by time, since individuals are able to provide different levels of energy in a given amount of time. Rather energy includes dedicated analysis, thinking, collaboration, troubleshooting, etc. No individual has the energy or focus to properly understand all of the operations of a large organization. Thus delegation occurs where leaders delegate elements of an organization so that others may provide the energy or Focus to adequately understand those elements.
In another section, Scope was defined in part as the area an individual or organization has influence over. Within this Scope of Influence an individual or organization provides focus in order to best determine the manner in which that influence will be used. If the scope is too large than the amount of focus that can be given to any one element of that scope would be insufficient to provide an optimal level of influence. This is commonly expressed as being stretched too thin.
Individuals and Organizations all have various levels of focus they are able to provide. Groups that are effectively managed and have high degrees of competency often will have focus to spare, while others that are poorly run or inadequately managed often are hiding a deficit of focus available.
Because Focus is so subjective it can be difficult to monitor and determine where individuals or organizations are being stretched too thin. Objective measurements can be used to help determine the Focus levels of an individual. For example if an individual does excellent work but comes in early and leaves early, it may be a sign that he or she has a great deal of available Focus that can be used for additional responsibilities or a more expansive position. Understanding Focus can help organizations understand their limitations as well as recognize and utilize an individual’s true potential.
When an individual was asked to restore and maintain a second car in addition to the first car, he was unable to dedicate adequate Focus to the second car, instead Focusing only on the first car. To restore and maintain both cars would require Focus in excess of what he could provide. He was simply stretched too thin. To dedicate an equal amount of Focus to both cars means that both of the cars would be in equal condition, but neither of them to the standard expected. The same is true in organizations. Individuals, groups, and organizations have a finite amount of Focus that can be provided. Exceeding these limits will mean tradeoffs and prioritization. Staying within these limits can lead to operational excellence.

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