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Focused efforts reap big rewards

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in Leaders & Managers

You wouldn’t think good ideas could be bad, but letting too many at once into the pipeline can slow it all down. Two scenarios:

You have two new product ideas with equal prospects, each of which can generate $1 million a year. Each requires 10 people for six months, and you have 10 people.

Leaders often split the effort and assign five people to each one. Putting aside any shared resource constraints that might cause delays, both projects should be ready to roll in 12 months. That’s the first case.

In the second scenario, you take an intensive, sequential approach and put all 10 people on one project first. You’re ready for launch in six months, maybe sooner, because productivity increases when you eliminate multitasking.

So Project A launches in six months and your team rolls over to Project B, done in another six months.

Either way, two new starts in a year.

Outcome: The focused, intensive approach launches a product six months sooner, generating $500,000 while you tackle the second one. That’s half the time it would have taken in the first case, with no delay, plus quicker cash.

What’s more, working in sequence instead of simultaneously removes distractions and may cut the process to nine months, for a 25% lift in time to market with no extra hands on deck.

In reality, most organizations try to run more than two projects at a time. Turn five projects into one and you’re looking at about a 50% reduction in time to market (18 months versus 30 months) and earlier cash flow.

Bottom line: Tackle one thing at a time.

— Adapted from “Are too many ideas killing your innovation efforts?” Michael A. Dalton, Innovation Tools,

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