I’m at the Social Enterprise Alliance Summit here in Boston, where I’m presenting this tomorrow. My favorite session today was by Jerr Boschee, who spoke about what makes a successful social enterprise. (For the jargon-averse, a social enterprise is an organization with a double bottom line – it yields both social and financial returns.)
He spoke about the importance of focusing on the one thing you do well – and getting rid of the rest. I’m a huge advocate of this approach. (My version of this advice is here.) Jerr says focus yields a lot of good for everyone:
1. Have a sharp focus: Be great at one thing. Contraction is good. Kill programs that aren’t core to what you do best. He calls this “organized abandonment.”
2. What happens when you focus? Expanded impact. You get more profound penetration into your area of focus – and greater social impact.
3. You also get a revitalized culture. Clear focus yields happy, productive and united staff.
4. Influence is also an important outcome. The more power you have, the more freedom you get to speak the truth and do what you need to do.
I like his list.
It is scary to focus. But like all things that require courage, it is powerful. Fuzziness and fear don’t make great organizations or significant social change.
It’s not always about what you should do. It’s also about what you should not do.