- A shared perspective about the goals – everyone knows what´s important and they are on board
- A universally understood drumbeat – the desired speed/pace of work is understood and in alignment
- Relevance of tasks – people spend time on tasks that best support success
- Organization alignment – you are set up for success
- Self-correction – problems are solved quickly or prevented and opportunities are recognized and seized
- Results – the outcome is optimally successful
The second indicator of laser focus is a consistent and shared drumbeat that reverberates throughout the organization. The drumbeat is the speed at which work is or should be flowing. The cadence. The rhythm. The pace of the organization. You might find agreement about what´s most important but vastly different interpretations about when it needs to get done. Drumbeat differences can cause finger pointing, resentment, stress, pressure, and worse. Your team members don´t want to be the group that others look down upon nor will they want to feel like the only ones working hard to meet deadlines. Peer leaders often disagree about drumbeat and this is deadly to the organization.
Think about a high school dance. As each song changes, dancers adjust their movements to match the drumbeat. People have their own style of dance, but everyone dances to the beat. The same should occur in your organization. The drumbeat might need to change from time to time but the organization should keep pace and adjust as needed. Some companies will see seasonal differences in the drumbeat.
To achieve laser focus, everyone should be clear about the pace of work needed to produce results. When you are dancing in step with music, it is fun and things feel right. If you get out of synch with the rhythm of the organization, it feels odd, off, and uncomfortable.
Along an obscure side street next to a railroad yard on the south side of Seattle, there was once a small Amazon.com distribution center (it’s no longer there). The shelves of books, videos, and music were emptied and stocked 24 hours a day. In the corner of the main open space, hung high on the wall, was a traffic light. The red, yellow, and green light let everyone know how many orders needed to be processed. The green light told people that things were humming along just fine. The yellow light indicated that the orders were starting to back up too much and the red light warned that the plant was in the weeds. The drumbeat changed depending on the color of the traffic light. Supervisors would drop what they were doing to help get shipments processed if the backlog got too large. People revved up and chilled out together like disco dancers. In addition to regular variances, the drumbeat increased during the holiday buying season when all Amazon.com hands packed as many gifts as the people and machines could move.