Focus and the 7 questions all start-ups need to answer

Earlier this week with two business colleagues, I launched a new product called The 3rd Space.

The 3rd Space is both a board-game and a tool that gamifies problem solving to help individuals and groups better understand what is stopping them from achieving their goals, and what to do about it.

To launch The 3rd Space my colleagues and I invited 20 ‘fire-starters’ to a day of generative game-play where we used the game to help players find some real world solutions to some of the challenges they face.

Our fire starters (a group of highly entrepreneurial people doing amazing things to improve people’s lives in their respective industries) came from a range of contexts and industries – everything from business start-ups to well established and iconic Australian brands, public and private sector, and with both national and international experience. The diversity of knowledge, skills and experience present within the group was awe inspiring.

I also played The 3rd Space and bought to the game I played the current challenge of my business (talk about having to be vulnerable with some pretty high achieving people!). My question focused on the next stage of The holos Group with the focus being taking the current know-how of the business to scale.

The key message offered to me from my fellow played of The 3rd Space was FOCUS. It was pretty clear to me as the game unfolded that The Holos Group has too many brands/offerings going to market all at the same time. This not only divides my energy, but distracts us in providing our core value to our current and prospective clients.

It is fascinating to me how often we don’t take our own medicine. The Holos Group’s tagline is Purpose, Focus, Evolution. During my turn of The 3rd Space I had an insight related to the Focus aspect of The Holos Group’s tagline -

Pick the strongest aspect of the business and let the other aspects fall away.

Lightbulb moment: We are not focused enough on what makes us absolutely awesome in Australia, which is being the go-to consulting studio for vertical and post-heroic leadership development.

I was reminded of an earlier blog on the three core elements of focus: Intention, Commitment and Discipline.

  1. 1. Intention: a ‘wish’ for a desired future enacted and embodied today; a vision through which an individual or group’s thoughts, feelings and actions are oriented; and a concept to be made manifest.
  2. 2. Commitment: to ‘cut away’ or cease those activities not core to an individual or group’s fundamental purpose or reason for being; to connect with heart, mind and spirit to a single-pointed ‘reality’; to trust or look after something and someone in ways that allow it and them to flourish.
  3. 3. Discipline: to be in learning to with life; to set one’s intention as a teacher and to become a student of that intention; to grow and evolve in ways that enables one’s intentions to be actualised.

So, in actualising the Intentions of The Holos Group, Commitment and Discipline is required now. To this end, I wrote in my game journal the following: The Holos Group builds global consciousness by helping individuals and organisations evolve what is, and by guiding individuals and organisations in creating what’s next.

In practical terms this means that The Holos Group will now focus on only two inter-dependent offerings to market. First, THG Consulting (helping individuals and organisations evolve what is) and THG Studios (helping individuals and organisations create what’s next). I must admit to feeling lighter and more energised at the prospect of delivering upon this two-pronged value proposition.

But The 3rd Space kept on giving! My next turn focused my attention on what needs to happen now to more closely align The Holos Group with our value proposition with my fellow players inviting me to answer the following seven questions:

  1. 1. What need in the market does The Holos Group address that only it can?
  2. 2. What is the vision for The Holos Group and, from the market’s perspective, what does it look like fully implemented?
  3. 3. What is the ideal strategy to launch, ground and scale The Holos Group’s value proposition in the markets where it can add the greatest value?
  4. 4. In implementing The Holos Group’s ideal strategy and realising our full value, what are thefinancials to ensure that value is exchanged in ways that adequately reward everyone involved?
  5. 5. In ways that maximise the Return-On-Effort and minimise wasted effort, what resources (people, time, materials, etc) are needed to take The Holos Group’s vision and strategy to scale, and when (exactly) are these resources needed?
  6. 6. What is the perfect timing for implementing The Holos Group’s strategy to ensure it is given the greatest opportunity to succeed?
  7. 7. What is the week-by-week implementation plan for the next 12-months to ensure The Holos Group for it to gain adequate velocity towards the actualisation of its vision?

And given my earlier lightbulb moment, I added an eighth question: How will the drivers of the strategy’s implementation (people, plans, resources, etc) keep focus and remain connected to enable The Holos Group to be all it can be now, and into the future?