The New F-word in Business . . .

bruce lee

The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.  ~Bruce Lee

There are tons of new fads in the world today.  I guess we have the internet, social media, technology, ample spare time and the ease of communication to thank.  New diet fads (Hollywood diet, Acai Berry diet, Cabbage Soup diet, Mayo Clinic diet, Apple Cider Vinegar diet to name a few), App game fads (Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, etc.), teen fads (tattoos, cutting, condom snorting?, and others too weird to mention).

Business, and especially the areas of management and leadership, are ripe for fads as well, some effective, most just catchy phrases that sell books and speaking engagements for the authors.  Jack Welch continues to share his philosophy and experiences as the “greatest executive of the 20th Century” (according to Forbes). Then there is the fad of business parables that contain one or more success principles (Patrick Lencioni’s books come to mind), and all the “secrets” of success in business and leadership (21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership, Leadership Lessons of Genghis Khan, The Tao of Leadership, etc.).

While there are many fad business books, there are also some classics that actually do provide excellent and seasoned advice.  Books like “Good to Great” and “Built to Last” by Jim Collins, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino, “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard, “Reengineering the Corporation” by Hammer and Champy, and several others offer timeless and proven advice.

One of my all-time favourite business words, which should definitely be a fad, is FOCUS.  Focus is the new F-word in business.

Too many companies, full of good ideas, good products and great people, flounder due to a lack of focus.  Spreading themselves too thin, wasting time, effort and money chasing too many “shiny objects”, having lots of projects in the pipeline but not getting traction on any.  Lack of focus is one of the biggest speed bumps on the road to success.

Fastbreak 2Consider the situation Allan Mulally found when he was recruited in 2006 to turn around a failing Ford Motor Company (see Chapter 12   in FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution for more on this story). Once a global powerhouse of automotive styling and manufacturing, Ford had diversified so much that, with brands such as Volvo, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar, plus operations in Europe, Turkey, Russia, China, South Africa, it was spread too thin for its available finances and management talent.  Winning in a highly competitive global marketplace takes attention to every little detail that is important to the customer.  It takes FOCUS, and Ford had definitely lost its focus.

By selling off the non-core brands, cutting “pet projects”, setting a simple vision (One Goal, One Team, One Ford), defining a few key breakthrough objectives, and having weekly business review meetings with all executives from around the globe, Mulally brought an intense focus to the turnaround at Ford.

Too many businesses lack focus and alignment and wind up wasting time and energy.

What are the two or three critical areas your organization is focused on?  If you don’t have a sharp focus, there is probably another F-word in your business that takes over!

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
This entry was posted in consulting, corporate culture, Human Psychology, John R Childress, leadership, Life Skills, Organization Behavior, strategy execution and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The New F-word in Business . . .

  1. I read a book called “Focus – The Future of your Company Depends on it” (Al Ries) several years ago. It was one of the most important business/leadership books that I have read. John, you are on point on a critically important subject.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s