Question: "Can your organization really do it all?"   Or maybe the question is, "Should your organization even try to do it all?"  We’ve talked about the importance of clarifying what a win is for your organization.  And clarity on that important question is critical.  This is not the same question.  This question is one that both preceeds AND follows clarifying your win.  This is about the importance of narrowing your focus.

Why does it both preceed and follow clarifying your win?  Because determining what you will call a win will be made easier by really drilling down to what you actually can do well.  And once you’ve determined the win, you’ll help yourself by making it obvious what your focus will be.

And the truth is, you really can’t do it all.  At least not well.  And providing your customer with a cafeteria style menu may seem like it will bring more customers…but it really only ensures that you’ll have trouble truly delighting anyone.  Think about it.  If you want really great great Tex Mex food you know to go to Pappasito’s.  Only a crazy person would actually go to a cafeteria for that.  Who goes to Luby’s?  Someone who wants a little bit of everything.  Can a little bit of everything take you decisively in a strategic direction?  No.  At best it will be a meandering stroll.

In his post today Seth Godin referred to a line from Paco Underhill, who said that "too many real estate developers are busy building the ‘all’ instead of a mall."  Love Seth’s take on the concept.  He said instead of the idea "all or nothing" it could be that "all is nothing".  What’s that got to do with the importance of narrowing your focus?  It’s big.  Trying to do it all leads to a diffused impact.  Narrowing the focus provides laser like impact.

Is it easy?  No.  It’s very tough.  Determining what you won’t be doing is critical.  Saying "no" to opportunities that don’t match your objective is absolutely essential.  The organizations that learn to say "no" effectively are the ones that actually succeed.

What do you think?

P.S. If you’re interested in more from Paco, you might check out this Fast Company article, How We Sell

All Is Nothing