Scare away Mediocrity by Focus, Speed and Impact

+ FOCUS
+ SPEED
+ IMPACT
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For almost two decades, we have learned to shape organizations that have become very uncomfortable places for that group of people who have opinions about everything but don’t follow up with actions.

At the cost of putting up with these people, we have learned a lot and have given them even more opportunities. Too many, because none of them have ever worked. Mediocre people don’t change, no matter how much time you spend on them. They only seek to protect their status and comfort. The mediocre are time thieves, the guardians of charlatanism and false consensus. The creators of overwork. The thieves of the time of those who are not mediocre at all. Unfortunately, the mediocre still have too much room in organizations.

But fortunately enough, we have found the perfect formula to make the mediocre run away:

FOCUS
SPEED
IMPACT

How scary these three things must be for them.
FOCUS

Focus on priorities that are wildly important.

To begin with, focusing is not about deciding what to do and what not to do. It´s about deciding what to achieve and what not to achieve.

Prioritizing by thinking in terms of activity is a reflection of deterministic mentalities, forged in the Taylor factories in which we have all been educated: the universities and the new “Business Schools”.

Some leaders resist prioritizing simply because they lack the ability to decide what is essential to achieve and what is not. By the way, prioritizing does not mean each function or department compiling a wish list. That’s not prioritizing, even on the contrary, this avoids prioritizing. Focusing means understanding what really drives the business, what is the flywheel of impact, what we need to accomplish, and most importantly, what we will no longer pursue.

4
To that end, we share with you four questions that help us to put the spotlight on how leading organizations around the world are really focusing:
What is the flywheel that makes this business grow?
What are the three priorities we need to deliver NOW to grow our business?
What list of things are we going to stop pursuing and communicate to the entire company so we all are aligned about what we don’t want to achieve?
How are we going to make sure a month from now that we haven’t filled our agenda with tasks that don´t matter?
In short, prioritizing means deciding what (not) to achieve and when. The “when” is also one of the great forgotten aspects, and this is because companies continue to plan in immobile annual cycles.

Prioritization is an organizational habit, not a once-a-year workshop.

Radical transparency and focus are inseparable. If you are not focused, you create transparency about lots and lots of issues that don’t matter to anyone. However, if you are focused but don’t make what really matters transparent to your people, they will continue to consider everything important. That’s why the two of them are inseparable.

One of the best practices we have implemented over the last few years is to communicate with equal emphasis both the priorities that are wildly important through OKR and what we should no longer spend one minute on.

Putting focus is also about eliminating this stupid phrase “we don’t have the resources” at the root. At ActioGlobal we like to hold up the mirror to that phrase.

We don´t have the resources =
We haven´t decided yet what to stop doing.

Quite simple.

And by the way, focusing starts with the leadership team. Lack of leadership focus translates into chaos in every team in the organization
SPEED
We’ve often heard the argument: “Speed leaves a lot of people behind.” The blunt answer of the AG team: Bullshit.

Speed leaves behind the mediocre. Speed leaves behind those who are too busy giving their opinion on everything. Those who spend their time creating Powerpoints to justify their incompetence.

Additionally, in the world of theory and PowerPoint ideas, people still deny the importance of speed and argue it´s cadence and overall quality that matter. Actually, in the real world it´s: cadence, speed, and overall quality. All three at the same time. Far from being incompatible, in the best organizations in the world all three are part of a virtuous cycle of constant renewal and unlimited continuous improvement. Yes, indeed, continuous improvement remains as necessary as disruptive innovation. Let’s not be blinded by fads….

Speed follows focus and precedes impact. Once we have decided what we need to achieve, we all focus on it: we act quickly, we achieve the objective with quality and impact, and we move on to the next priority.

Likewise, speed creates focus and, in turn, highlights the lack of focus: you can’t move quickly if you want to cover everything.

Speed eliminates organizational dead weight. When we set out to move fast, we bring to light all the waste we’ve caused by too much navel-gazing.

Those of us who grew up obsessed with Toyota’s practices (which are no longer cool for those who live in the show of Agile certifications and one-day workshops to learn agility with snacks included), know very well that speed brings to light at least these 5 wastes:

1. Work overload

people working on things that do not serve any purpose, e.g. PowerPoints reporting on the past.

2. Inventory (of trophies)

a surplus of projects that have served a few to win a trophy.

3. Medio-cretania

the toleration of mediocrity. The time wasted in convincing mediocre people that they should strive and improve every day because they are not (yet) robots, but human beings with the abilities to critically think, feel, learn and improve.

4. Rework

consequence of #3. It is the time lost due to rework caused by the tolerance to mediocre processes and deliverables that have been taken for good, creating problems and rework to other people.

5. Reporting

time wasted explaining to ourselves what we did to get a pat on the back. The fuel for adults who grew up with the incentive of external recognition rather than effort. Readily practiced in hour-long sessions where everyone agrees on the poetry of the past but doesn’t know anything about the verses of the future.
For speed there is a phrase that changes the rules of the game:

What if the survival of the company depended on achieving this in
1 week?

By asking this question, we will learn three things:

1. Know who doesn't give a damn about the company's survival.

2. Bring to light the 5 wastes described above in order to eliminate them at their roots.

3. Achieve results in at least half the time we would have achieved them previously.

2x
The key is to get things done in half the time:
By the way, just to be sure, we repeat once again that speed without impact and quality is useless. Or to put it another way,

Speeding up in the wrong direction is a waste

Therefore, speed only makes sense when it follows focus and when it aims to make an impact. This is not about going fast to do a lot. This is about speed to make an impact, to make it before competitors do, to make it where it is wildly important, where your customers need it.
IMPACT
In a company, anything that doesn’t lead to making an impact is pointless.

If you tell a joke and no one laughs, has it made an impact? No, not at all. It has only served to make you try to be funny and to please yourself.

There are too many clowns in the corporate world who only tell jokes to themselves.

NPS measurements are a clear example. We have seen companies measure internal employee satisfaction over and over again without ever having measured customer satisfaction as well. Everyone is very satisfied – well, except the customers.

Impact is also an effective antidote to corporate narcissism. In the words of our honored Elena Arnaiz:
Elena Arnaiz
“If we believe that everything revolves around us and we consider ourselves to be superior to the people we are addressing, i. e. our customers, then there is no solidity or growth in our value proposition.
It’s pure narcissism if we do not talk to our customers because we do the talking and only talk about ourselves. And, to make matters worse, if we disdain their feedback because we consider them inferior, our value proposition deteriorates more and more. This is how a company is destroyed.”
At its core, impact is our commitment to the customer. Impact lives up to the frequently quoted statement that the customer is at the center of everything we do.

For us at ActioGlobal, impact means that everything we do is focused on achieving the organization’s most important priorities and transforming each organization’s “5 Moments of Truth.”
The 5 MOTs (Moments of Truth) we focus on for organizations around the world are:

1.

The customer must be able to find us in an omnichannel way.

2.

The customer's choice must be us.

3.

The customer must have a good experience in onboarding to the service or when launching the product.

4.

The client must be satisfied with the product or service.

5.

The client must decide to come back to us again.

The impact, today, is no longer made in a single channel and much less, in purely physical channels. We live in a world that hybridizes physical and digital reality, in a world that is approaching the metaverse, consequently impact can only be made in a Phygital way.


Ultimately, regarding impact, as well as focus and speed, there is no middle ground. There are no three-color traffic lights: there is no “yellow”. There is either green or red. Either we make an impact or we don’t. Either we focus or we get bogged down. Either we go fast or we fall behind.
To borrow from Steve Jobs,

It’s either
‘insanely great’
or it’s
‘total shit’.

Steve Jobs.

He doesn´t accept a middle ground. Neither does ActioGlobal. We have verified that the middle ground is not a good ally for high performance and business agility. Between the black and white there are shades of gray, which serve as a shelter for mediocrity, ambiguity and business narcissism. There is no room for these attributes. We cannot afford this time needed. The future is awaiting us and to rewrite it, we need focus, speed and impact. And we need it more than ever before in history.

Finally, we are very excited to present our new homepage. A reflection of what we are and of those who have contributed to this day, our fans: our clients.
+ FOCUS
+ SPEED
+ IMPACT
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