Think Fast Service and Operations Leadership

Focus on the Sweet Spot

Where is your team’s sweet spot?  Is it in providing exceptional, customized services to clients who see the business value in you meeting their specific needs?  Is it in an extremely efficient, productive means for providing output at consistent quality and lower cost than your competitors?

There can be a lot of unproductive noise at times within our operational goals and metrics that prevents us from stepping back and ensuring that we are measuring the right things and maintaining our commitment to our core value to our customers.  I have thoughts on some activities we can practice to improve.sweetspotbat

I saw a great ad for a baseball training bat that gets batters to focus on the sweet spot.  The end of the barrel of the bat provides the optimal hitting surface and power generation and some ingenious baseball trainers developed the SKLZ Sweet Spot Training Bat.  This mental and physical tool trains you to hit on the sweet spot by practically eliminating the rest of the bat.

To improve your team’s focus on your sweet spot try eliminating everything else, at least for a test period.   Stop measuring things that customers don’t care about, or simply stop reporting on them.  Spend all your time on the sweet spot to dramatically improve your overall performance in the minds of the customers who are at the center of your value proposition (sorry for the marketing-speak).

Please share a comment if you have other suggestions, or if you think this is theoretical nonsense with no practical application.  And what would you do to improve your focus on the sweet spot?



May 26, 2009 - Posted by | Service and Operations | , , , ,


  1. The challenge here is identifying the “sweet spot”. I have found differing views on any given department’s focus or sweet spot.

    Until the sweet spot is accurately defined, you risk focusing your team’s efforts on activities and metrics which are not relevant to the overall success of the company.

    A true leader can accurately define the sweet spot, develop programs and metrics to support the focus, and provide consistent positive feedback along the way.

    Comment by Jason | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. Greetings!
    In my experience coaching leaders of change and managing countless projects of various sizes, I think the topic you put forth is important, but over-engineered.

    Isn’t the “sweet-spot” nothing more than clearly understanding the desired outcome (which better align with your customers’ expectations) and ensuring all partipants in the effort understand the goal and their role in achieving it? It’s having a shared understanding of the goal, and the right tools and resources to achieve it.

    I like your baseball bat analogy but think we’ve somehow gotten to a point where we’re talking for the sake of hearing ourselves talk. If a project manager can’t focus his/her team on the “sweet spot,” I daresay they’re out of their league. Pun intended. ; – )

    Anne Sutton
    Straight Talk Communication Consulting

    Comment by Anne Sutton | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. I like your definition of sweet spot but I think this is an attempt to simplify, not over-engineer. To me it is a lot like the “Vanity Metrics” blog I referenced on Tim Ferriss’s site. Take away the things that are not important to allow the team to zero in on what they do best and what the customer needs them to do best.

    I also think that sometimes it isn’t the fault of the project manager or team manager, it is higher leadership that is not allowing the focus and the understanding.

    In any case I would always agree with your suggestion to not make this complicated and simply execute.


    Comment by Bryan Schueler | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  4. This is similar to Jim Collins’ “hedgehog principle” outlined in Good to Great. The organization (defined at whichever altitude you choose) distills its actions down to the single thing it can be best in the world at doing…and then eliminates all other activities that are not in support of that one objective.

    He also offers that defining that single “sweet spot” is often times a difficult process occurring over several months and not the result of some brilliant idea an overzealous CEO had in the shower one morning.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with the idea to stop doing things that don’t contribute to the main goal, presuming you’ve chosen one. This notion has been around for hundreds (if not thousands) of years…and yet is typically one of the more difficult disciplines to achieve.

    Comment by Ed Lucas | May 28, 2009 | Reply

    • It is precisely like the “hedgehog principle” Ed, thanks for pointing that out. Have you seen Jim Collins’ new book yet, “How the Mighty Fall?” There have been a lot of reviews on it flying around but I haven’t had a chance to research the book yet.


      Comment by Bryan Schueler | May 28, 2009 | Reply

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