11 Nov To achieve long-term business success, avoid this one critical mistake
Proper perspective, in business and in life, is something that everyone struggles with on occasion. Maintaining a clear and accurate view of any situation, particularly under stress, can be an important to a successful outcome from a project or situation. However, sometimes we catch ourselves giving too much attention to one or two details and not enough attention to the bigger scope of a project. So how do we fix this?
One of the skills that military pilots practice regularly is continually cycling their attention between their target and their aircraft. The first priority is always the same in every situation: fly the airplane. Everything else is secondary, because if the airplane crashes, nothing else matters. When a pilot forgets this, they suffer from what is known as target fixation– a laser-like focus on one objective to the exclusion of everything else. When this happens, important information can be missed and it’s easy for any mission to quickly become critical.
In business, people don’t die from target fixation, but projects and companies crash and burn all the time because of it. People get focused on one goal—one target—to the exclusion of all else. Maybe they feel they absolutely have to bring the job in on time. Maybe they believe that they must wring every last cent of profit out of a project. If this is ever the case, they are suffering from target fixation, and it might be terminal. That’s because no one objective and no one set of metrics assures success.
For example, if you bring your project in on time and on budget but have somehow alienated the customer, you have effectively cut yourself off from future work for that customer. If you bring your project in on time and on budget but have hounded your employees so hard that half of them quit, you’re unlikely to succeed in your next job.
Target fixation may allow you to meet that one goal or deadline now, but it often sets you and your business up for long-term failure. Like a pilot, a project manager or company owner has to keep a close eye on all the different gauges and indicators that determine long-term business success. Watch your objectives, yes—but above all, keep your plane in the air.
Source: Project Management for Profit by Roger Thomas, Joe Knight and Brad Angus, together with Joe Cornwell and Joe Van Den Berge from Setpoint Inc. Setpoint has a 25-year history of successfully designing and implementing custom rides and attractions for the top amusement and theme parks in the world.
Manuscript info: Page 89-90: First, Fly the airplane