Zoom in, zoom out!

Image courtesy of David Mark via Pixabay
A little over a week ago, I was at a GATE (Gender and the Economy) event at Rotman. Here’s a clip of Abigail Moriah talking about her experience. (If you can’t see it, you can’t be it). 

Later in the event, Shirley Hoy talked about the importance of being able to zoom in, and zoom out, when approaching any issue. The next day, we were involved in a really spirited discussion with clients about something similar. Whether it’s design thinking, or understanding customers, or working through a business challenge, the ability to take multiple perspectives is invaluable. It’s where that old adage about not being able to see the forest for the trees comes from. 

Why is this important to you? If you want to make #better decisions, by all means, look at the big picture. That’s critical. Then take time to focus on a few details. And lastly, zoom back out again to see if what you saw at the beginning looks the same as it did when you first considered it.

My name is Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. With my partner, Steve Willson, we work with our clients to find practical, usable solutions to their customer challenges. We can help you cut through complexity and ambiguity and zoom in on what’s important. Find more insights on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Then click below to sign up for weekly news that will help you make better decisions for your business.

Pull The Emergency Brake. Or Don’t.

Photo thanks to Gerd Altmann via Pixabay
“Make a u-turn as soon as possible!”

Was she really shrieking at us, the GPS woman? It started to sound that way when we toured Lyon, in the middle of a city-wide tram-track upgrade. Every direction was the wrong direction. Or was it? One day out of a magical vacation a few years ago, we found ourselves in GPS hell. The GPS was not helping, since every one of her directions led us to another detour, or blocked road, or “no exit” sign. Finally, Steve suggested we just shut her off and stop listening. (Perhaps not as gently as that sounds). 

We did it. And what happened? Nothing. We took a few twists and turns, saw parts of the old city, Vieux-Lyon, not meant to be on our route, and eventually, we took a beautiful waterside walk. Then we went on our way. Drove to Beaune. Bought some wine. Went back to our rented maison. Made dinner.

What’s the point of all this? It’s that few things are as urgent as they seem. It is rarely too late. Any direction can end up being the right direction. So the next time someone is barking directions and contradicting them in short order, switch it off. Step back. Think about the outcome you are really trying to achieve, and head in the direction that experience, understanding, instinct and any material fact (like a compass heading, the sun, or data) tells you is right. 

I’m Megann Willson and I’m one of the partners here at PANOPTIKA. Steve Willson and I work every day with clients to help them get answers and to see everything they need to know to make better decisions. And sometimes our advice is to stop asking for more answers, and trust what you’ve already learned, including the data that’s right in front of you. You can also find us on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and occasionally on Facebook

4 Ways to Find Your Focus

Target with arrows
Entrepreneurs and salespeople love opportunities. (Us included). We love hitting targets, self-imposed or otherwise. We’re always looking around, discovering new ways to do things, meeting people, and creating solutions. 

What’s wrong with that? It’s that it can make us unfocused. If you want to hit a target, you need to take aim. But where, when there are so many choices? Also, what if you’ve got a whole gallery of people giving you advice or direction? The customer wants one thing. Your boss wants another. Your colleagues have (in their mind, at least) a better idea. Your quota says you want something different. So if you’ve got a whole line of targets in front of you, how do you focus? Shouldn’t you seize every opportunity? When it comes to choosing which product to work on, or which new customer, focus is where the magic happens. Otherwise, when you let loose that arrow (your effort), there’s a chance it won’t hit any of the targets, and will just sail on by. Or that your effort won’t be sufficiently powerful to even get you to the targets in the first place.

Here are five time-tested methods for improving your focus, whether it’s on a finishing one of your projects, getting a new customer, or choosing which idea to develop. Start by making a list of all the things you could focus on to achieve your goal. Then do any one of these (all five are useful, but if you’ve read this far and you want to improve your focus, you might as well start practicing). 

  1. Play “optometrist”. Take that  all the things you could focus on, and then, two at a time, ask yourself which would be better to drop, until only one remains. 
  2. Go for early wins. Assign a probability score and work on the one that you are most likely to “hit” first. 
  3. Use the grab-bag approach. Put each individual target on a piece of paper, and draw one out of a bag. Commit to working on that one until you have a result. Your odds are as good this way, as trying to do them all, badly.
  4. Go big or go home. Identify the target that has the biggest upside, and put all your focus there. 

Now that you’ve found your focus, I’ll share a little secret. No one can focus 100% on anything. But follow the Pareto Principle, and you can get there. Find those 20% of your targets that will give you 80% of what you want, and give them 80% of your effort. Then you can feel free to give the other 20% of your time and resources to the remainder, in good conscience. 

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. We work with clients to help them use customer-centricity to focus their efforts and their strategy where they can make the most difference. You can also find us on Twitter and on Facebook, and for ongoing news about topics like this one, click the button below. 


What are we deciding, exactly?

Business people expressing different opinions
One of the challenges when there has been pent-up demand for action, is that if a team comes forward to figure out the way forward, each member has his or own stake in the decisions as well. Everyone brings emotions, needs, agendas, perspectives, and old wounds to the table. That’s why it is so important to ask this question at the outset, and to not move forward until there is agreement:

“What are we deciding?”

Then, if the process gets sidetracked by the many agendas at the table, or an individual needs to be heard, or something else takes the conversation in an unintended direction (as it invariably will), any member can get things back on track by asking, “What are we deciding, again? Let’s park everything else that doesn’t relate to this direct decision, and get back to those items once we have decided.” This is a way to refocus the conversation on the decision, separate from people’s individual needs, yet without suggesting that any of the “sidetracks” are invalid or not worth discussing.

I’m Megann Willson and I’m one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions – using better data, a better approach, or a better frame of reference. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.