Saturday, September 16, 2006

Red Notebook - Entry 3

I spend a lot of time thinking about “Singularity of Intent”. I picked up this idea from an article I read in Inc. Magazine titled One Step at a Time. Unlike most business-magazine articles, this one is as important today, if not more so, than it has ever been. The crux of the article is this. For most small business, the required resources, with the exception of one, are cheap and readily available. Money, talent, production capability, raw materials, etc… are readily available at commodity prices. However, time, specifically, you time as measured in your ability to pay attention and focus, to make important things happen, is not; it is in ever shorter supply.

Singularity of intent is about recognizing the scarcity of your most valuable resource, time. If you ill-spend your time, success will remain elusive. In short, your time must be focused on one of three activities: delivering, refining or redefining your value proposition. If you are not performing one of these three activities, you are wasting time.

Delivery is the process of running the current machine that provides the next opportunity for a customer to pay you for your value proposition. Delivery includes both the value-adding and non-value-adding activities required to run a company. Delivery is the activity most of us identify as “work”.

Refining is the process of making incremental/evolutionary changes, hopefully improvements, to the current machine. Refining also includes the process of applying the current machine to new challenges. GorTex is a perfect example of a company that refine. A product that started out as a water-proof/breathable fabric for extreme climbing apparel and tents has found its way to synthetic sutures and endovascular stent-grafts.

Redefining is the process of making bold/revolutionary changes, again hopefully improvements, to the current machine. Redefining is a complete change in the organization. When the United States rejected a Monarchy and became a Democracy they began a revolution in world government.

Singularity of intent is achieved when you have identified the next step that must be taken, the next bottleneck that must be broken or the next mix that must be achieved and made that step, bottleneck or mix the measure against which all work will be measured. Either you are working or you are not. If you are not working then you are wasting time.

The people at Marmot Mountain were able to turn their company around by implementing a singularity-of-intent culture. What would happen if you implemented a singularity-of-intent culture in your organization?

Take care…

John

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