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Focus on the right thing

November 24, 2007 – 4:10 pm

The ability to focus effectively often seperates “average” from “the best”. If you don’t know how to focus, you work slower, more ineffeciently and most likely with the wrong things. This probably makes sense to everyone so why write about it? Because a lot of people focus on focusing without realizing that their focus is wrong.

The right focus

In my business we always spend a lot of time talking about how to stay focused on the issues that are most important. That is good and only shows that we’re aware of this very important subject. However, recently we found out, that we were focusing on the wrong things. So, despite our ability to stay focused, we have to realize that we wasted a lot of time!

Almost all product development that we make starts with the input from a user of our services. Some problem is due to be solved, the user tells us about it, and we start evaluating on how we can keep this problem from occuring again. So far we have always found some kind of solution that involved some amount of product development, that both aims at fixing the issue and at the same times makes our whole product better. The solution often takes days to identify and build.

The other day it struck us, that with this strategy we will never ever reach the point where we can say that our product is good enough. We know that there will always be some amount of development going on - in fact there should be - but if we could spend development time only on the really important issues that’s where our product really takes off! Until now we have focused on product development as the key to solutions - that was wrong.

New strategy

So, as of this past Thursday we are changing things and the new strategy will follow this recipe: Find a suitable solution without doing any development work. If that doesn’t work, develop something that can fix the issue.

It really works! It only took one day to realize, that through plain conversation with our users we are often able to fix the problem. In other words we now spend 10 minutes in stead of days and the user gets satisfied as we fix the problem for him, he is being payed attention to and we find a solution much faster than we used to be able to.

I used to spend a lot of my time testing things built by my business partner. The majority of that time is now put into proactive user service instead, which makes much more sense. Our users experience that our level of service has increased, and it is a better business for them to participate on our website, as I now have the time to be proactive and give them optimization advice before they even knew that there was a problem. At the same time we have a lot more time to develop the things that really make sense in relation to business- and product develpment.

The morale… Always focus on the right thing!

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