Why do you want to boil the ocean?

Linda LaitalaAround The Table, Business, WorkLeave a Comment

Wally is smart, savvy, and like other Raven Roundtable members, enjoys sharing his hard-won wisdom. He purchased a small manufacturing plant, growing it into a $15 million company in 5 years.

In a recent CEO Roundtable meeting, he listened as John shared his plans for transforming his company by bringing on a new and very different product line. Wally couldn’t be still. He peppered him with why and how questions, finally cautioning John, “You’ve got a great niche business.  Why do you want to risk it by bringing on something so different? Don’t try to boil the ocean; stay close to the products that built your reputation and build from there.

It was good advice.

Boiling the ocean refers to over-scoping or trying to solve a problem so big your chances of success are slim.

Boiling the ocean presents many challenges:

  • It limits your impact because your resources are spread too thin.
  • It wears down your team, inefficiency requires more time and effort to achieve the same result.
  • It can transfer your focus from what made you successful to something with unknown results.

Instead, practice the 80/20 rule. Focus your effort on the “critical few” areas where you can maximize your impact while protecting your team from wasted effort and declining morale. Do that, and you won’t have to worry about the temperature of the ocean.

The road is easier together,

Linda Laitala, President
Raven Performance Group

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