Focus Without Fixation

I was an invited guest at a corporate leadership meeting recently when the topic shifted to Key Management Indicators (KMI).  The leadership team of this company had done a great job of creating a dashboard of key indicators that seemed to accurately reflect past performance and provide reasonable insight into the future success of the company.  But something was amiss.  The team obsessed over the one indicator that was in the red … underperforming.  The conversation ignored all the other positive and even marginal indicators and fixated solely on the red indicator.  I struggled in how to communicate the benefits of a balanced approach when reviewing KMI’s, when John Starling’s article on this topic came to the rescue.

John is the founding partner of Smith Growth Partners, a firm specializing in the development of Marketing Action Plans and Value Propositions.  For the conversation I was about to have with my client, I lived life vicariously through John and tapped in on his deep martial arts background.  John is in the process of writing a series of terrific articles for SmartCEO Magazine and his most recent article gave me the tools I needed.  You see, this company I was working with was loosing focus on the overall health and future of the company because they were fixated on one KMI.

John Starling’s series of articles “The Order of Black Belt” have a definite marketing angle to them, but I found them to be equally applicable to the overall leadership and management of any firm.  I especially like the idea of developing a “balanced stance” from which you deliver whatever is needed to your clients and stakeholders.  John teaches his Mentoring and Martial Arts students to “look nowhere and everywhere” in order not to fixate on one target and get hit in their blind spots.  It’s a terrific metaphor for all business leaders to consider.

Strong leaders develop an intense awareness of their surroundings.  What’s going on in the market?  How will new legislation impact the company?  How will fuel prices impact our competitiveness?   As John would say, looking nowhere and everywhere is focus without fixation.  It eliminates blind spots and allows you to have a more balanced leadership approach.

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