Out of curiosity I’ve recently I’ve been asking people what their current business priorities are.
Naturally, a good percentage of the answers I received were pretty much as I expected. They were all over the map from an improvement in sales and marketing to better inventory control, improved staff turnover issues, and better on-time performance. But a significant minority of responses truly shocked me.
The shocking response that was repeated time and time again was that there wasn’t really any priority issue being worked on. Really?
My concern is those businesses without priorities are just going along, taking care of business. There is no sense of urgency, no sense of improvement and slowly but surely those businesses are sliding into an abyss of complacency. Their complacency will be easily recognized by their customers who will eventually defect to competitors that offer them more – more and better sales and marketing programs, better inventory control, a more stable and more helpful staff, and better time service.
Some years ago the late Steve Jobs gave a presentation where he said that his first task upon returning to Apple was to focus the team on their priorities. He started the process by asking one difficult-to-answer question: “If you could only do one thing, what would it be?”
Jobs’ focus on priorities and urgency changed the paradigm at Apple. It energized a moribund company into an innovation powerhouse. That question created the focus which became a stream of world-beating products and services that revitalized the company. From that one question Apple became the most valuable corporation in the world.