We can consider vision to be made of elements that comprise a more comprehensive definition that can be used to help yourself and others achieve more. We have discussed the element of framing (see here) so this time we want to talk about focus.
You cannot achieve 20-20 vision without focus. When our eyes are not in focus, things are blurry, and it is difficult to read signs and differentiate objects. When organizations are not in focus, it leads to mistakes, poor quality, time-wasters, and ineffective processes.
A focal point.
Focus is critical to vision to make sure that all parties aren’t distracted by the outside issues that surround them. Focus helps people work on the activities that have the highest leverage for achieving the vision. It also helps sustain energy to accomplish it. If framing is a communication and positioning element of vision, focus is all about execution. If employees do not have focus on the most critical issues, any deviation they make can be costly in terms of time, energy, and resources.
In addition, high-performance execution requires adjusting the direction and making decisions on the fly based on changing circumstances. As opposed to a static vision statement, focus is more dynamic. It may vary as the team interacts with the environment. When you are reading a speech to a large audience, your eyes are continually adjusting. They go from near (the paper in front of you) to far (the faces of the audience members to engage them). This constant adjustment allows you to be more impactful in connecting with the audience. Similarly, a leader may help their team switch from short-term goals to long-term objectives. For example, if a team is continually falling short of a goal, the leader may have the team focus on a shorter-term goal. The team will need to think of alternate ways they can achieve a quick win. Or, if the team keeps exceeding their goals, the leader might expand the focus to a longer-term objective to raise the bar.
A need for flexibility.
Like eyes that need to adjust to both near and far objectives, the processes and skills the team uses to adjust their focus is a critical element for keeping up with changing conditions. Older eyes lose some elasticity and don’t make the transition from near and far without assistance of some kind. A high performing team should behave like young eyes. It should be nimble in the pursuit of the vision. This allows them to better respond to various changes in the business environment. As a leader, don’t be static on the focus of your team. Build more flexibility in how you frame the vision, and clarify the focus consistently. This will enable your team to make the necessary adjustments and maintain its competitive edge moving forward.