Domino's could be the key to your success


Mediocrity or Excellence - The Choice is Yours



If you look back on what your business has accomplished over the years, truth be told, you can most likely apply the Pareto Principle to the arc of your business success. As many of us know, the Pareto Principle states that 20% of the efforts, resources, attention, activity, customers, or products, will account for 80% of the results. The theory first postulated by an Italian mathematician has been thoroughly studied and shown to hold true time and time again.


The 80/20 ratio will vary from person to person, company to company, sometimes being as high as 90/10 or as low as 60/40, but on average, 80/20 seems to be the sweet spot where most of us land.


We must admit that more often than we would like, we have unwittingly applied the Pareto Principle to my own businesses. Especially when the assignments and commitments start piling up and the metaphorical stack of paper on the mental desk in our employee’s head gets taller and taller. It’s at those times when we are all tempted to start cutting corners and applying the governmental principle of “good enough”.


If You Chase Two Rabbits, you Will Not Catch Either One


We justify “good enough” by telling ourselves “No one will notice”, or even worse “no one will care”. The latter begging the question “if no one will care, why are you doing it?”. If you’re applying your valuable and limited time to something like that, just for the sake of getting paid, well, that’s a topic for another time.


The bottom line is that, due to pressure, real or self-made, we continue to put more and more on our employees’ plates until priorities become completely muddled and nothing is clear.


This problem is addressed in The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, subtitled “The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results”.


They have written an entire book on the principle of doing one thing at a time, which, as research has demonstrated, is the only thing we should be asking our employees to do. The myth of multitasking has been debunked before, so we won’t dwell on it, except to say that it doesn’t work. As expressed by Steve Uzzell, “Multitasking Is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time”. Or as expressed in and old Russian proverb” If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one”.


Success is Sequential, Not Simultaneous


In The One Thing, the authors explain that doing one thing at a time is the most important skill you can master to achieve success and is the most efficient way to assign work. They explain that “success is sequential, not simultaneous”. It is created by doing one thing at a time until success is inevitable. They liken it to dominos, in that once you topple the first one, that in turn topples the next one, etc.


Success Dynamos


An interesting tenet of dominos is that each domino can topple another one, even if it’s half again as big. In other words, not only is success sequential, it’s also geometric. It builds on itself. As explained by Gary Keller, it starts out too slow to notice until it’s moving too fast to stop. When you allow your employees to focus on one assignment at a time, they become success dynamos.


Doing the Most Important Thing is Always the Most Important Thing


Which leaves the question: What is the one thing they should be doing? To discover this, we need to ask, “what matters most for my business”? Once we’ve answered that question, ask it again and again until you’ve focused in on the one thing they should be doing. Don’t put them in a position where they will be distracted by anything else. Once you’ve drilled down to the one thing, assign it. Once they’ve toppled this first domino, ask yourself what’s the next one thing. “Doing the most important thing is always the most important thing”.


Planning, Coordination, and Foresight


Of course, this will vary from department to department and project to project. It will require planning, coordination, and foresight, as well as flexibility to get it right. But once you’ve put procedures in place that allow you to look at each product, service, or project from the “what’s the most important thing” perspective, it will become clear.


We need to stop keeping our employees busy and instead, keep them focused. When they focus on the one thing they should be doing, success will follow. Your company will prosper and so will your employees. As the authors say, “find the lead domino and whack away at it until it falls”.


If you would like to know how to get the clarity you need to focus on “the one thing”, our professionals at ASN would love to have that conversation. Just give us a call.