Achieving success using focus
Your business will be humming along when a tremor suddenly hits. In fact – and this flies in the face of instinct – when trouble looms, usually in the form of pressure for short-term growth, that’s exactly the moment to make bold bets, according to Sanjay Khosla and Mohanbir Sawhney in their book Fewer, Bigger, Bolder: From Mindless Expansion to Focused Growth. Getting to the point of quality growth is the endgame, and to do this you have to identify a very small number of high-potential areas to invest in.
The key principles advocated by the authors:
- Do less. Reduce the number of different activities over which your business is distributing its investment resources.
- Be bold. Focus everything on the highest-potential initiatives.
- Simplify and keep costs low. Eliminate complexity from your processes and plans.
- Execute. Keep testing, learning and adjusting as you go.
- Unleash people. Make bold bets on talented people by giving them disproportionate authority and resources.
So that’s the theory, but does it work? The book describes numerous examples of major organisations with which the authors have worked, for which the strategy of betting boldly on just a few initiatives has paid off handsomely. The obvious answer is that the strategy works if you manage to pick the right opportunities and people for your big bets, whereas you are far less likely to achieve a happy outcome if your big bets are placed on the wrong candidates. Unfortunately, the only sure way to tell the difference between good bets and bad is using hindsight.