Today, I'll wrap up my thoughts on effectiveness by looking at focus and concentration.

Focus and concentration are two tools that are used by the executive to bring about results that will be of greatest benefit to himself and to the organization he serves.  Peter Drucker, in his book, The Effective Executive, tells us that “The way to apply productively mankind’s greatest range is to bring to bear a large number of individual capabilities on one task.”   From Drucker’s statement, one can conclude that there are two key tools that the effective executive must use to achieve this productivity: focus and concentration.

The first tool, focus, is important because is directs the attention and activity of the executive or the organization towards a singular achievement – the successful outcome.  Focus is the tool that helps the effective executive decide what should be shut in and kept within the sphere of attention and effort.   The second tool, concentration, is the undivided attention of the executive or his organization towards the object of focus.  The need for concentration is great, because the executive is constantly presented with new information and opportunities, which, if not filtered through the sieve of concentration, will quickly distract from the present task. Concentration is the tool that helps the effective executive decide what should be shut out.

While a clearly defined list of successful outcomes, be they personal or organizational, are essential, without the tools to accomplish these outcomes, few lasting results are likely to be achieved.  When the tools of focus and concentration are applied to ensure that energies are directed toward the achievement of defined outcomes, the effective executive will be able to impact his organization in a positive and productive manner.

Discussion/Comments (2):

Focus and Concentration: Tools for Effectiveness

I'm presently reading the book _Overachievement_ by John Eliot, the subtitle of which is "The New Model for Exceptional Performance." I remembered that he speaks a lot about focus too. For example, he explains that to win a golf tournament, Tiger Woods focuses on making each stroke superb.

After reading your blog entry, I had to reconsult the book to see what else it said about focus. The index has several pages under "focus and concentration." On page 142 he says that "narrowing your focus by segmenting specific tasks to get yourself thinking in the present" is what really gets you into total absorption in today's busy life.

I remember when first reading that how hauntingly familiar that sounded. It is very GTD-like, to boil things down to the Next Action. Oddly enough, the preceding paragraph features a "To-do" list by former secretary of state Madeline Albright which says "1) Call Senator Helms, 2) Call King Hussein, . . . 5) Prepare for China meeting, 6) Buy nonfat yogurt." Her focus and concentration definitely has to be different between handling government policy matters and choosing flavors of yogurt.

I'm finding _Overachievement_ a very high-spirited treatment that includes the idea of creating a Trusting Mindset that really encourages focus and concentration. Hopefully you and other readers will too.

Meanwhile, thanks for an invigorating set of posts!

Posted at 3/9/2007 5:37:57 PM by Glenn Mandelkern

re: Focus and Concentration: Tools for Effectiveness

Thanks, Glenn.

Indeed, I've found that anything that I can do to narrow my focus often results in a significant productivity boost. Recently, I removed everything from my peripheral view that was not related to my work at hand. It made a big difference. I blog mostly to clarify my own thinking about various topics. I'm glad you founmd my post helpful. -Eric

Posted at 3/10/2007 4:31:12 PM by Eric Mack

Discussion for this entry is now closed.