Internal forces command our attention. External forces govern success.
Internal forces are loud. External forces are silent.
When external forces are ignored, we use speculation, assumption, or the highest paid opinion to make decisions.
Internal forces put everyone, at every level of an organization, at risk of drowning in a sea of busy-ness.
External forces that govern our effectiveness are things like:
- Customer preferences
- Competitive landscape
- Economic conditions
- Legal requirements
- Talent availability
Each of these external forces is outside of our control, and each one is capable of blindsiding us, while we’re super-busy focused on achieving 98% efficiency, or mastering Inbox Zero.
The higher we rise in an organization, the more internal forces inadvertently work to derail us. It’s like gravity.
Emails, meeting requests, clarifications, approvals, rework, politics, and people drama all scream for our attention, while the giant billboard pointing the way to success sits quietly outside our office window.
Having the right systems in place can ensure we keep our attention on what matters most.
We can see these sort of systems at work in Amazon, where Jeff Bezos labored to ingrain his “Day 1” philosophy into the environment and how work gets done.
An iceberg didn’t sink the Titanic (Kodak, Blockbuster Video, or Lehman Brothers Bank), a lack of systems for keeping everyone focused on what matters most did.