The first paradox of execution is that to effectively do more, a team or an organization, need to focus on less.
Gary Keller, author of the book The One Thing, explains that the word priority comes from the Latin prior, which means “first.” “If something mattered the most it was a “priority.” Curiously, priority remained unpluralized until around the 20th century, when the world apparently demoted it to mean generally “something that matters” and the plural priorities appeared.
Echoing the importance of focus, the authors of The 4 Disciplines of Execution write:
“Focus is a natural principle. The sun’s scattered rays are too weak to start a fire, but once you focus them with a magnifying glass they will bring paper to flame in seconds. The same is true of human beings – once their collective energy is focused on a challenge, there is little they can’t accomplish.”
This focus has been called many things such as ‘priority,’ ‘product goal,’ ‘outcome,’ ‘result,’ or a ‘lag measure’
Jason Selk, author of Executive Toughness, calls ‘product goals’ the result you want to achieve. He explains that “product goals are result-oriented and are potentially attainable within the next 12 months.”
The 4 Disciplines of Execution authors use the concept of ‘lag measures.’ They explain ‘…revenue, profit, market share and customer satisfaction are all lag measures, meaning that when you receive them, the performance that drove them is already in the past’.
In both cases – product goal or lag measure – we are speaking about the end result.