If you’ve owned a business for any length of time, you’ve noticed that things can get a bit hectic from time to time. You can get pulled in many different directions and it can be difficult to know what to tackle first. Pretty soon months have gone by with no real progress.
I like to use the following methodology to determine what to focus on and to make progress on those initiatives. I bucket items into two main categories: priorities and concerns (what keeps me up at night). I then order these into the top 3 for each category. Note: It’s a good idea to check with your colleagues to make sure you don’t have a blind spot which is causing you to focus on something you shouldn’t. I use this same exercise for my direct reports. It ensures the team is focusing on the right things.
I’ve gotten in the habit of tracking priorities and concerns overtime. This helps me to see if I’m spending my time on solving the top 3 concerns or not. I ask myself if I’m making progress on the top 3 priorities. If I’m concerned about the same things week after week, then I need to re-focus.
Next, I drill down even further and purpose to solve one of the top priorities. I Force myself to hyper-focus and get the most important things done. In order to do this, I create a decision tree which seeks to find the root cause of the problem. I talked about “framing” a problem in one of my earlier posts. I take the time to truly frame the problem I’m trying to solve. Do I have enough information? What is the root cause? What steps could I take to solve the problem?
This leads me into my next point which comes out of another book I’m reading, “The Lean Startup”. When you go to solve a problem or answer a question, you need to create a hypothesis. What is a potential answer to the question? I try to think about ways I could test my hypothesis BEFORE I run headlong into implementing a solution. This will allow me to confirm or deny my hypothesis and get to the solution in a methodic way.
So to recap, he’s the process:
- Catalogue the issues into priorities and concerns
- Pick the top 3 in each category
- Purpose to solve one of the concerns (this keeps you from getting stuck)
- Map out the root cause of the concern
- Create an experiment to solve the concern
- Go back to step 1
So what are the top 3 concerns facing your business?