I caught a business reality show on telly which had recently inspired me to blog on an earlier episode. I was struck by the difference between this installment and the previous one. To encourage soaring sales, each of the three independent retail outlets were in effect given just a pair of instructions:
- a more definitive window display and multi-product bundles were key to a children’s bookshop
- an alternative therapy shop needed to lessen the emphasis on crystals and broaden their overall appeal
- de-cluttering the store and asking sales questions would help a bike shop’s sales climb
What interested me about these was not so much the content, but their context.
I once sat through interminably treacled hours of a client’s annual sales conference where one speaker was a fairly high-level ranking (although not the highest) Techie. It just so happened that the big boss (joint founder and leader of the then 499-employee enterprise) was sitting stage left. The presentation was roughly a twenty-minute insight into what was gong on in his world. It revolved around five current initiatives. There could have been several more, and for a firm positioning itself at the vanguard of their then emerging and world-leading technology, it was almost a crime to only have five projects on the go. But, with re-assurance from the chief, it turned out that they had between them once put more items on this to-do list. They’d discovered that they only ever seemed to be able to effectively manage a rolling five.
Whenever I sit down with a new client, you can touch the excitement. They know where they want to go, and realise I can help them finally start the journey there properly. Yet the temptation nearly always surfaces to jot down as many action points as possible. I regularly have to rein in such expectations without diminishing enthusiasm. And it can be hard.
The reality is that when you’re seeking to get something new done, or change a path, there is a limit to how many plates anyone can spin at any given time.
So, regardless of whether it was a by-product of necessary editing, I like the focus on only the essential that the tv show offered.
When you’re looking to do something new, it can be the best way forward to pinpoint the one single thing you absolutely must focus on. You can have a second or third point too if you want, but they must all be measurable by asking a simple question a week later.