Today I participated in an off-site for work. There was a lot to focus on - we are facing an uphill battle, as are so many companies, in this tough economy that may soon get a lot tougher. It is easy to be distracted in this kind of environment; it is easy to get off-track, and even easier to let frustration rise to the top.
And as he often does, my boss stood up at the end of the day and asked if we might participate in a bit of an experiment. He wrote three poignant words on the wipe board. "The Vital Few". Rather than putting together an enormous package of ideas, initiatives, possible developments, etc., could we hone our focus on the very few things that will move the needle, things we can all get behind and drive forward across all of our businesses?
In a sense, we need to remove the noise. We need to take a moment, breathe, hold hands, and promise to support one another on this journey with a common goal: to be great by doing the best we can each day for our guests. While this sounds easy, in our day-to-day tasks it is quite possible to get distracted, to take a Road to Abilene. The crisis du jour can cause us to do things against our better judgement.
So how do we find and focus on the vital few amidst so many other things competing for our attention. It's about comparison. In a retail box, nothing sells like product. If we are to consider incorporating services, and I mean ANY services, they had better to prove to outperform product in the space they take up. By comparing services to products, we are able to discern what gets the space. The same can be done for new business concepts. If we have a new idea that we think will fly, great! And the next question: so if that new business concept comes in, what goes out?
What saves us are constraints. If as artists we were able to do whatever we wanted, then it's likely we wouldn't create our best work. We need to have constraints to think creatively, to have those break-through innovations. By forcing ourselves to find and nurture the vital few, we can be assured of discovering what truly matters and is worthy of our time and energy.