Is too much focus a bad thing?

focuspicAs a leader focus is important right? For decades managers have strived to maintain focus in order to grow their organizations, manage employees and organize their time in order to concentrate on complex issues without interruption. All this is very important, but if a manager is too focused on one or two things other issues or obligations might go unnoticed. Max Bazerman, author of The Power of Noticing, concludes that excessive focus is a reason leaders fail to notice important facts relevant to their decisions. To prove his point, Brazerman cites an example in which leaders of different organizations’ are asked to focus on counting the number of times a ball is passed among a group of people in a film. In the middle of it, a woman with an umbrella walks through the group. More than half the viewers were so focused on the ball that they didn’t even see the woman with the umbrella. They were all able to focus very well but failed at noticing. A good leader needs to be aware of their entire environment at all times. Don’t put all your focus on one thing, that’s how other things slip through the cracks. According to Bazerman, there are other elements that will make things go unnoticed. Such as focusing only on information that is readily available, focusing on certain biases regarding information or its source, and having unwavering trust in a complex system whether or not it’s understood. So how can you be an effective, focused leader without causing other things to go unnoticed? The key is to start with the realization that noticing is something that can be learned, both individually and organizationally. According to Bazerman, it requires leaders who consistently ask questions and seek other answers before accepting what’s right in front of them. The leader needs to be open and willing to look beyond the obvious. The take away is that focusing is important, but too much focus on one area will cause other things to go unnoticed. It’s all about balance, and keeping an open mind, while trying not to limit yourself. If you’re concerned about missing out on something just make sure to always ask “what else could it be?” Source: Harvard Business School]]>

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