Focus on Adding Value

Do you ever find yourself running like crazy but getting nowhere? Among executives, business owners and entrepreneurs it seems like if you aren’t always in a frenzy of activity, you aren’t doing your job. Busy for the sake of busy does not actually accomplish very much. The question you must ask yourself is, “Am I actually accomplishing anything that adds value to the business?”  Here are 3 questions that you can ask yourself to see if you really are adding value.

What are you working on?

This question seems so simple as to be disingenuous. Yet many rush headlong into their day without a great deal of thought as to what they will be working on. Things present themselves one after another and you simply take it as it comes. But, are the things that you are working on really adding value?

One way to answer the question “What are you working on?” is pretty low-tech. Take a sheet of paper and pen or pencil and draw a simple map. You are in the middle, and around you place each of the things that you are working on. Try and accumulate the work surrounding you into “buckets” of similar type work. Make sure that you include administrative work, e-mail and any other activity that you are working on; don’t leave anything out!

What percentage of your time are you spending on each bucket?

I would suggest that you look at your buckets and answer the question on a weekly or monthly basis, using percentages (for example, 20% on Project A, 15% on employee things, 10% on sales). Also remember, you only have 100% to work with here! So be honest in your assessment; you don’t really need to do a complicated time study, just be honest with yourself. Once you know where you are spending your time, you can evaluate whether or not your time is well spent.

Are you doing activities that add value?

The question to consider here is: what is the core of your business and what is important to your business, right now? If the core of your business is producing a product to sell, then product development and quality as well as sales channels would be core to your business (among other things, of course). Perhaps working on developing a sales team would also be very important to your business. Also, you must consider your current business situation. If you are a startup that needs investment and sales to get going, then focusing on anything else is not adding value in particular if it is on peripheral affairs.

Once you have narrowed down the scope of your activities to what is truly valuable the final step is to decide and act on what to do with the rest of your activities: delegate them to another, outsource them completely, or simply not do them at all if they are really not important.

2 thoughts on “Focus on Adding Value

  1. Kevin,

    I like your suggestions for time management and workload organization. I will try.

    Thanks for the input.


  2. This type of evaluation makes sense when there’s a strategy and plan being executed. With any execution plan, disciplines, roles and responsibilities are defined with expected outcomes. The execution plan aligns to the value needed. I’ve found that when people work towards a defined purpose with an execution plan (call it a roadmap if you want) there is less time wasted and it is much easier to focus on value.

    I agree – if what you’re doing doesn’t provide value – why you doing it? I contend that most people in an organization has lost sight of the “value chain” and their role through poor planning, execution, and communications. Too many organizations are being driven by short-sighted funding decisions that impact the ability to put this critical foundation in place before embarking on “the plan.” The end result – chaos, time lost, money lost, opportunity lost.

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