There is a simple concept that many follow in business, “If we don’t have it we can get it.” That may go along with; we can build it, create it, or do it. Does being everything matter?
It seems logical, feels intuitive, we don’t want to lose the customer or the sale so we broaden our offering. On the job, we’re mostly taught to fill in, lend a hand, and learn something new. Does this make us more valuable, or less?
Like many things in life, some of this may be situational. It probably helps a lot of people most of the time, but when we really want to stand out or do our best work it may be the wrong approach.
Focus and Risk
We may call this our focus. What are the things that we do really well? What are our core competencies? In what ways or areas do we deliver our best work, build the best product, and set higher standards with our talent?
Focus feels risky. When we say we can’t do that, get that, or make that, it feels like business lost. It may be, and most can’t afford to give up anything, or so that is the feeling. On the other hand, when someone needs an expert, a specialist, and the best who will they call?
There are plenty of analogies about why focus makes sense. For example, for those who are industrial minded there is the torch that cuts metal. A broad flame isn’t concentrated, it doesn’t get as hot, a finer flame focused on a specific spot will cut through the metal.
Depending on backgrounds, industries, or even rural versus urban demographics there are analogies of the shotgun approach, spray and pray, or stories of you can’t be all things to all people. Is being everything smart?
When your focus is too wide, when you try to be everything to all people and all situations you might be lessening your value. In fact, you might accomplish much less. You may start a lot of work but you can’t seem to finish anything.
I’m certainly not suggesting you don’t lend a hand, build something custom, or order the one thing that is hard to get for your valued customers. At the same time, keep in mind that hauling a wider load doesn’t make the trip cost less or get you to the destination faster.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours!, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.