What Level Do You Focus On?

By Paul Starkey
Published on: December 25, 2020

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On a recent car ride conversation with my wife, I tried to explain what I thought was a profound observation. That a great deal of energy goes into the micro-level (busy level) of human activity, whether in business or life in general. I quickly drew a contrast to the macro-level (strategic level) of seeing things beyond the day-to-day.

I shared my lament that most people can’t get beyond the day-to-day and often miss the bigger opportunities. Politely, she agreed (I think) and then pointed out . . . “what about the fix level?” I said, what? She said, “seems like a lot of my friends have to spend time fixing things. And at our age its usually health things, etc.”

I said I agree that is the action level of things for sure. So where do you focus your time, energy and efforts?

I can tell you this; observing owner/operators for many years, many get sucked into the busy level, the day-to-day, and don’t get to the action or the strategic level.

Here are some examples:

Macro Level deals with growth, profitability and accumulation of cash and the ultimate enterprise value and where the business will be 5 and 10 years out.

Action Level deals with what needs to be fixed short term to improve and change the business fundamentally.

Micro Level contends with the day-to-day, how to report on projects, costs, how to respond to issues, failures, problems, surprises, etc. Micro is in the moment. It’s reaction versus proactive resolution. Chaos seems King at the Busy Level.

People that micro focus find it difficult to think or act differently. The solutions they need are often at a higher level than where they work. Actions to build profit, cash, and revenue growth are all more strategic.

Our observations are this simple: operators who focus on big outcomes, actions to change the status quo, often outperform those caught up in the day-to-day, micro analyzing the very subtle points in the business.

Examine a typical week; think about where you spend you time. If it feels like micro level stuff, challenge yourself to focus on actions and outcomes at a higher level. Most all of us can achieve more. It takes a bias for changing things and a strong focus on the bigger outcomes.

Hope you will make the change.

Keep it Vital.

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey is a 23 year CI industry veteran who led control manufacturer ELAN from infancy to a 150 person company. He is a visionary, keen on innovation, pioneer of on-line training, and numerous product innovations. He is co-founder of Vital Management.

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