I recently saw an intriguing LinkedIN thread relating to quotable quotes – or more specifically, quotes or proverbs that sum up an individual’s business philosophy. I have been thinking a lot recently about my work in my ‘day job’ and also my voluntary work at IIBA UK, and a phrase that has been really resonating with me recently is:
“You can achieve anything, but you can’t achieve everything”
Being a stereotypical analyst, I’d be tempted to expand this statement to make it clear that it’s possible to achieve anything feasible. Clearly, however much we try we probably can’t achieve time travel, teleportation or perpetual motion (yet!). Although that might not be a reason to stop trying…
However, the main thing that I take away from this statement is the importance of focus. And in my experience, focus is crucial in just about any business and is particularly important for businesses that are progressing change projects. It’s an under-rated adjective that is easily overlooked in some small, mid-sized and even multi-national organisations. There’s always another opportunity, another idea just temptingly around the corner. Perhaps someone sees a shiny new solution that they just can’t wait to go out and buy… without truly understanding or analysing why they need it. It’s extremely easy to get blind-sided by the solution illusion. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of this pattern to some extent (I bet you have at least one ‘gadget’ collecting dust that seemed like a great idea to buy at the time!)
Sometimes the difficult thing is to pick a direction and stick to it until the environment changes (or until it’s necessary to make a conscious deviation). Laser-light focus, combined with the ability to read the business situation, get the data & know when to change direction is vital.
It’s better to do a few focussed things well than have 100s of half-finished products and projects.
A danger for project teams
There are a number of pitfalls here for project teams in this area, and I dare say that we’ve all seen instances of this. Three patterns I’ve seen include the turkey project, the zombie project and the blimp project.