Attention Matrix: Activity Focus
This week we’ll look at the third quadrant: the missed opportunity quadrant. In many ways, the missed opportunity quadrant can be the most frustrating of all.
Being in this quadrant is a result of identifying areas that matter but being unable to focus appropriately on those areas. It’s like seeing the finish line, but for some reason not being able to reach it.
Too often missed opportunities stem from our success. Allow us to explain.
How many times have you heard (or said), “If you want something done, give it to the busiest person”? Or, perhaps, “We need to put our best people on this effort”?
While we have all successfully deployed these strategies from time to time, the basis of this concept relies on top talent. All good organizations rely on recruiting and deploying talented people. The trap, when this is the principal approach, is that as the organization grows, finding and bringing on new talent at the levels required to sustain the growth is extremely difficult. And because systematic development to grow talent within the organization has been ignored, those who have proven themselves tend to be called on repeatedly. As a result they become stretched too thin, and in an effort to juggle all the we-need-you-on-this requests, even the most important requests fail to receive the attention they need and deserve. Whether this phenomenon exists at micro or macro levels within the organization, it produces missed opportunities.
Five plus or minus two is a rule from neuroscience that suggests that we as individuals can truly focus on only three to seven items of importance. Our study of top performers confirms that optimum performance comes from focusing on four to seven discrete outcomes. More than that and attention is divided between too many worthy endeavors to complete any of them with excellence.
Next week we’ll discuss what happens when we first determine what matters and then appropriately focus our attention on those things: the outcome focus quadrant.
Question to ponder:
- Are you and your best people spread too thin on too many we-really-need-you-on-this endeavors?