The Core Focus™ is one of the 8 questions of a document that we call the Vision/Traction Organizer™ or simple the VTO™, which is one of the five foundational tools of the Entrepreneurial Operating Systems®.
In the journey of an EOS® implementation we (the EOS Implementer and the Leadership Team of the organization) are working together to create a strong vision for the organization. A strong vision means that we have two things in place: 1. that we have defined the answer to the 8 questions of the VTO™ and 2. that we share the answers to these 8 questions with everybody in the organization and over time get to a point that we call Shared By All (SBA), where everybody is crystal clear on the vision and feel good about it.
Better Decision Making
Focus is one of the most important keys to success and you can think of the Core Focus as a decision making tool that helps everyone to stay laser focused in the business. The core focus consists of two parts: 1. your purpose/cause or passion and 2. your niche. These two parts together tell us why we do what we do and also what it is that we can can be the best in the world at in our business arena.
To define the core focus we have to dive into the passion/cause/purpose part and have deep understanding of where the fire within comes from and also have this understanding what we can be the best in the world at. If we nail that, we can stick to the Core Focus® and use the it make decisions.
Your Agile Organization
When everyone in the organization is crystal clear on what the Core Focus™ is, it enables the organization to become more agile. This is because with the core focus everyone can draw a circle in the sand and determine if a decision, communication or action is inside the circle (=inside of our core focus definition) or outside of the circle (=outside of our core focus).
An unclear core focus is like driving with your car in the fog: you hit the brake most of the time, go slow and are not accelerating. Once you have defined your core focus with clarity, then you go fast, the fog has been cleared and you can accelerate.
You truly need to have this level of clarity to move fast in the VUCA World we live in (VUCE = Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous). Please make the decision to stick to your Core Focus once you have defined it and you will get more done faster and avoid a lot of frustrations because you will not chase all kinds of shiny opportunities that are outside of your core focus.
Two quotes, one message
Let’s look at two quotes and see where that takes us.
Quote number one is from Mike Tyson who reportedly said: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face” – powerful!
Then let’s look at quote number two, this one is from Dwight Eisenhouwer who said”planning is everything, the plan is nothing”.
The message is the same: the plan once created is already outdated. If you dare to use it directly to navigate then you will meet Mike Tyson with his gloves. But the thinking work is absolutely great because it helps you to see opportunities and anticipate pitfalls. So instead of a complete and unusable plan we must use something else. What we need is a SIMPLE BUSINESS MAP: A clear and simple map that helps you to navigate towards what you want in a VUCA world.
The Map & EOS®
The 3-Year Picture™
From Map to Goals
The 3-Year picture™ is used as a map when we define our 3 to 7 most important company goals for the next year. We do this work in the EOS® Annual, a two day session with the leadership team where we learn from the past, become stronger and healthier as a leadership team and plan the next year. Where the 3-Year Picture™ is our map for planning our 3 to 7 most important company goals for the next year, the 1-Year Plan becomes our Map for defining the 3-7 most important company rocks for the next quarter. This is the iterative approach that helps us to navigate in a VUCA world to get truly what we want.
What not How!
Focus on the What, not the HOW. This is such an important point that it is important to repeat it over and over again: please remember that the 3-Year Picture™ that we talked about here is all about what you WANT.
So what do you want?
It is not about defining HOW you are going to get there. Too often we let the HOW stand in the way of getting to the WHAT. Don’t be that person! In defining your business map, just focus on the what.
But wait…do we ever get to the how? Yes we do, because it is key to execute with success. We will figure out the how with our great team when we execute towards achieving our Rocks inside the quarter. This way we achieving our vision ONE QUARTER AT A TIME.
In order to run a great business, we have to get all of our issues out of our heads and onto paper or of course in a digital document for that matter.
What are issues? Issues are not just problems and obstacles but also ideas and opportunities. Basically issues are anything you have to deal with as a company, as a team to get ahead and make progress.
Keeping an issues list is a discipline. It is not difficult but if it is not yet a habit, it takes some time to adopt this simple discipline. The key here is to get everything out of the brain and visible for the team to deal with it. This alone creates clarity and peace of mind. Now we can use the list and make decisions using the IDS® process to solve or resolve the issues.
How does this work?
Then in the two-day Annual planning session, as part of the EOS® Process, we are going to use this list when we do our SWOT analysis. In the SWOT we look with the leadership teram at all the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for our company within the next 12 months.
In his great article (see link), Mike Rother (Toyota Kata) outlines what Scientific Thinking is and how you can use it to navigate in a VUCA world. Simplified, you could say that Scientic Thinking is all about FINDING YOUR WAY – that is your way towards your target, your aim, your vision. Below is the link to the article in pdf.
When we are practicing scientific thinking, we take the following three basic steps:
1. We must a prediction about a future result
2. Reality happens
3. Learn from the difference
To clarify this last point: after a certain amount of time, we can now evaluate to look at the difference between what we predicted and what actually happened in the real world.
If there is a difference (and obviously, often times there is 😉 then we just look at the facts (using a tool like the debrief directive™) and learn to improve our progress and performance into the future.
Agile & Scientific Thinking
EOS & Scientific Thinking
Companies that are running on EOS® are continuously setting a new aim, making that very clear and then plan and work towards achieving that aim. The practical way we do that within EOS® is with Rocks. When we set Rocks, we are actually predicting for the long term and defining our most important aims – our most important company priorities and individual priorities for the next 90 days.
Now the priorities are set we can plan and execute towards achieving them. We execute our rocks and after 90 days in the Quarterly Meeting with the team we look at what happened. What is the gap between our prediction and the results that are in. What can we learn from that? How can we improve with these learnings the next time (iteration)? In this process we are actually using Scientific Thinking.
Run on EOS®
Five Foundations for Success
Here is an important insight for what drives 80% of your success in achieving your vision.
EOS® contains a toolbox of 20 tools, but just five of them are truly at the core of your success. We call them The Five Foundational Tools of EOS® and here they are:
- THE VTO™
- THE ACCOUNTABILITY CHART™
- THE MEETING PULSE™
In the process of an implementation, we get to this point where these five foundational tools are implemented after just three days of implementation with the leadership team of the company. After completing the Vision Building™ day 2 session, the leadership team has achieved mastery in these five foundational tools, which means the leadership team has full understanding of the use and power of these tools and has implemented them in their team.
Another Milestone Achieved
From this milestone, we can plan the next phase where we are going to cascade these five foundational tools throughout the rest of the organization so the whole business is crystal clear on the vision, all executing with discipline and accountability and everybody is part of a healthy, functional and cohesive team. Now we are all rowing in the same direction to achieve the vision – how powerful is that?