What We Focus on Is What is Important

One of the keys to an operationally excellent organization that we teach at McClaskey Excellence Institute is that everything you do should be the best known way to accomplish your organizations’ Mission. Focusing everything on the best known ways to achieve the Mission harmonizes all of a company’s actions toward a single, unified purpose. Pal’s Sudden Service is an extraordinary example of this. There is nothing that Pal’s Sudden Service does, no matter how small, that is not the best known way to accomplish its Mission to “delight customers in a way that creates loyalty.” The result for Pal’s Sudden Service is four times (400% !) the repeat business rate of its best competitors.

Robert Cialdini, in his book Pre-Suasion: Channeling Attention for Change, discusses the research-verified actions of what successful persuaders do — just before their message is communicated — to substantially improve the probability that their message will be accepted. His book is full of many, research-verified great points. One of the key points is:

that whatever you focus on takes on added importance to you.

For example, if you focus on speed, speed becomes more important. If you focus on quality, quality becomes more important. If you focus on costs, costs become more important. If you focus on emails, emails become more important. The research shows that when the communicator’s message addresses what you perceive as important, there is a better chance of you hearing the message, considering it, and being favorably persuaded by the points being made.  When there is a focus on something, your mind translates that something is more important, and you pay more attention and give more weight to anything associated with what you consider important. So one of the techniques that effective persuaders use, is first make it important, then talk about the product or service that has that important feature. This increases the likelihood of a sale.

This was a giant “ah-ha” for me. He clearly added to and substantially reinforced another reason why focusing on your organization’s Mission is so critically important to achieving and sustaining excellence. If you, as a leader, focus on your organization’s Mission, then everything related to the Mission takes on more importance relative to everything else. What we perceive as more important, we pay more attention to. And as a leader, isn’t that what you want: To have everybody that works within your organization focus on what’s most important to achieving your mission? So to be operationally excellent, create a focus on the Mission of your organization. This in turn will drive people to focus on carrying out the best known methods and behaviors that will help accomplish that Mission.