BUSINESS LESSON

Focus, Clarity, Simplicity & Teamwork

While reading a recent article about Ford’s dramatic turnaround plan under CEO Alan Mulally, it brought me back to the mantra that guided Starbucks thinking during their impressive growth in the early 2000 time frame. Under the leadership of our very focused CEO Orin Smith we followed the direction of the simple mantra Mr. Smith championed everyday in both his words and his actions – Focus, Clarity, Simplicity and Teamwork. It clearly worked for Starbucks back then. And when you look at Ford’s growing market share and profitability that same formula is working for Ford now.

I believe we can all learn from the lessons inspired by Mr. Smith and Mr. Mulally. Here are a couple of the headlines from the article about Ford that personally connected with me:

  • “He has moved faster than most observers expected to boost quality and simplify the product line up.”
  • “Ford is in a very strong position – it has brought costs way down, has a well integrated global platform …and most importantly, a really good product line up.”

Mr. Mullaly has been fearless in slimming down and simplifying it’s product line up and focuses on serving a broader swath of potential car buyers with fewer higher quality car choices. Gone are Aston Martin, Land Rover, and Jaguar. Mercury will be history after December 31st and it recently announced it has a buyer for Volvo. It is almost mind numbing to think about all he has had the courage to sat NO to, so he can say with a bigger YES to serve his customers with a higher quality product.

After pausing to reflect on the lessons from these two leaders I find myself recommitted to leading with Focus-Clarity-Simplicity and Teamwork. How will I do it? For me it will be as simple as starting each day by asking myself the following four questions to center my thoughts and actions:

  • What are the most important things that I need to FOCUS on now?
  • How CLEAR am I with others, about the outcomes we are striving that matter most?
  • What do we need to SIMPLIFY that is getting in the way of our biggest priorities?
  • What do I need to do better, or different, to align our TEAMs to our mission?

As Terry Mansky, my colleague and friend at Coffee Bean & Leaf likes to say – “If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.” So my challenge to you is think about the following question – “What are the things you will stand for with greater Focus-Clarity-Simplicity and Teamwork starting today to lead with a greater purpose?


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