Play 8: Work Only on What is Important

For executives that haven’t been naughty

I love to read. I’ve skipped school to finish Shogun, read the covers off of The Belgariad, and waited in line for Harry Potter. These days with a wife, three kids and a busy schedule I often find books stacking up on my nightstand, my office, and in the foyer. One of the great things about the holidays is that I often get a chance to catch up on the books I’ve been meaning to read for months but haven’t had time to open. In that vein I’ve been reading Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry by Marc Benioff as we’ve worked our way around the Northeast for the holidays. The book is great, mixing the story with some great lessons for those of us who are trying to get a little bit of the magic for our own company. Marc structures the story in Plays that tell a bit of the story but also carry a little bit of a lesson for those looking to get insight into the success this company, which has been named the World’s Most Innovative company two years in a row by Forbes (2011, 2012), one of the 100 best companies to work for by Fortune (2012), and received the Gartner CRM Excellence Award.

That is why “Play 8: Work Only on What is Important” really struck me as it came right on the heels of my post “3 Point Guide to Staying Sane in the Holiday Season” in which I talk to the importance of being focused on the right things. Marc talks about the importance of “focus on the 20 percent that makes 80 percent of the difference.” He also makes a statement about realizing that you won’t be able to bring the same focus to everything in the beginning. I think this is a great point for start-ups, but really for executives these should be words to live by, especially if you are engaged in any type of transformational activity. I know that I’ve caught myself worrying about the details when the big picture is a semi-truck getting ready to wear me as a hood ornament. One of the things I try to do to combat this is to tell myself before I start something when it needs to be out the door, what the objective or successful outcome will be, and what the value of doing it is to my organization. This has significantly improved my ability to focus on “Just Enough” to get the job done and lessened my tendency to over deliver. Remember as an executive over-delivery is really just great looking waste.

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Dick Davies

Just finished Chris Anderson’s Makers. What we’ve been doing isn’t getting us to where we need to go.

Makers shows some understandable lessons of why where we are now requires different from what used to work.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a better 2012, Josh.

Susan Pcola-Davis

This goes right along with another piece of advise Scott Eblin wrote on October 3, 2012 “You don’t need to Solve for 100%.” I’ve passed his advise on to some of my “OCD” coworkers.