When I went to business school back in the early 90’s, I learned about corporate strategy and competitive advantage from the work of Michael Porter. Porter is considered by many to be the founder of the modern corporate strategy movement.
One of the dimensions of competitive advantage differentiation strategy is focus. The focus strategy narrowly targets a specific customer segment. In the context of differentiation, this may mean honing in on a distinct customer demographic, geography or product line.
I believe the strategy of focus is as important in business today as it was when Porter first developed his theories in the 80s. But today, the focus becomes a personal or leadership skill, in addition to a corporate or competitive strategy.
What do I mean by focus? Think about how your day evolves. How many times are you interrupted? How many times do you start something, only to find hours later that you got distracted and never finished what you started? If your day is anything like mine, this feels like it happens hundreds of times a day.
Focus is an important skill, not just for leaders, but for everyone in the workplace. It is characterized by our ability to be present in the moment. In The Mindful Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results, authors Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter consider one of the key qualities of mindfulness to be the ability to stay focused, while being aware of your thoughts and surroundings and being able to recognize and move past distractions as they arise.
Mindfulness helps us to be present, aware and attentive. Research is continuing to demonstrate that these key skills not only make us happier but improve our well-being.
Focus, as a skill for everyone in the workplace, may be the new competitive advantage for your business.