Cost of Focus
Or, more specifically, the cost of suboptimal focus – the cost of focusing on some (less relevant) needs of some Folks That Matter to the detriment or neglect of other (more relevant, valuable) needs of other Folks That Matter.
If we commit our (always limited) resources ineffectively, our returns (we might call this ROI) will likewise fall short of what would be possible if we committed our resources more effectively, or optimally.
How Do We Decide?
How we as a individual, team, group or organisation decide who we’re trying to please, delight, satisfy, or otherwise engage with and deliver to? How do we get to know what folks need, and who to ask about the details of those needs? How do we choose whose needs we can successfully discount or defer when the inevitable resource (time, money, effort) crunches come? Who matters and who does not? Which needs are more relevant, valuable (with respect our chosen Goal) and which, less?
Might it be useful to have some heuristics, or policy, or other forms of guidance, to guide us in decisions on including, excluding and prioritising folks and their needs? Personally, if it were entirely up to me, I’d go with the general principle describe by Goldratt and summarised in my post “What is Value?“.
By way of a quick summary of that post:
Focus on those things that relax the customers’ constraint, so as to increase the overall throughput of their business (a.k.a. “Mafia Offers”). And focus on the customers, or market segments, that you understand best – or at least can work with to find such understanding.
Our aim: to optimise the Needsscape a.k.a. the needs we meet (for example, need for revenue, profit, cost reduction, etc. often sits at top of mind).
Relevance For Workers
This post is not just about decisions made by executives and managers. Everybody has the same dilemma: how do I/we decide where to focus? Which code module would it be better to deliver first? Which tests are more valuable that others? Who would it be better to work with first, to understand their needs (a.k.a. constraints, requirements, or whatever)? Where we choose to focus absolutely determines how others see us and our efforts.
The bottom line is: the more effective we are at focussing on things that contribute to our personal or business goal (Cf. Goldratt), the more of our goal we’re likely to get. (Is that self-serving? Only if our goal is self-serving. Choose wisely).