Thursday, 2 May 2013

Ogunmupe: Unleash your power of focus by Bayo Ogunmupe

Ogunmupe: Unleash your power of focus

CRAYOLA is the most popular crayon brand in the world. Yearly, Binney and Smith, the Crayola manufacturers produce three billion crayons, at a rate of 12 million crayons a day.
The company was founded by Joseph Binney in 1864. In 1885 Edwin, the founder's heir and his cousin, Harold Smith as partners changed the company's name to Binney and Smith. Up till this new millennium, Binney and Smith focused on producing red pigments for barn paint and carbon black used in making lamps and automobile tyres. And what about their primary method of product development? They simply ask their customers about their needs and then develop products to meet their needs.
By 1900, the company began making slate pencils for the education sector but found that teachers seemed happier to tell them what they desired. When teachers complained of poor chalk, Binney and Smith quickly produced superior dustless chalk. When they complained they couldn't buy a decent local crayon because the best were imported from Europe, the company developed the Crayola.
Once the company found its niche in children's market, it became incredibly focused. For centuries, it has now manufactured superior art supplies for children. Today it dominates the market even in the face of the electronic revolution. However, the biggest threat to Crayola has been the entry of Computer games for kids. But instead of veering to computer games, Crayola has chosen to flourish within their limitations. Ultimately, they do children's products better than anyone.
Binney and Smith could have lost focus in an attempt to chase new markets and diversity. That was what toy manufacturer, Coleco did. Coleco started out in leather goods in the 1950s, then switched to plastics. By the 1960s, it was the largest manufacturer of floating swimming pools. But from the 1970s, it chased after the computer game market and them low-end computer. Then it tried to capitalize on dolls. This ultimately drove them into bankruptcy. For Binney and Smith, it would have been easy to chase after other successes, but it didn't. It remained focused and continued to excel in selling crayons and children's supplies, becoming the best in the world.
Thus, focus is as important in developing ideas for an individual, as it is in developing products for a company. Focus thinking can do many things for you. But how can you remain focused? One, you must remove distractions from your life. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins remarked that, the real path to greatness requires simply clarity, diligence, not instant illumination. It demands that you focus on what is vital and that you eliminate all distractions.
How you practice focusing is, you maintain the discipline of not doing easy things first or hard things first. Just do first things first. Then, insulate yourself from distractions. Two, create time for focused thinking. Once you have a place to think, you create time for focused thinking. Do not try to accomplish many things at the same time. Try to focus on one task at a time.
Three, keep items of focus before you. Concentration is the secret of strength in politics and in war. Always keep things of high priority in front of you. Four, focus on your set goals. The mind doesn't focus until it has clear objectives. Thus, you must make your goals very clear, crisp enough to be achieved and helpful enough to change your life. To know that your ideas are actually in focus, you must be able to write it fully at the back of your business card. Even if you look back years from now and conclude your goals were too small, they will have served their purpose, if they provide you with direction.
Five, always examine your progress. Always look back to see whether you are actually making progress. That is the most accurate standard by which to know that you are making the best of focused thinking. However, you have to give up many things in order to move up. At the highest level you are an expert, not a generalist. So, become an expert in your job. You cannot know everyone but try to know all of your competitors. Let every member of your mastermind group represent a professional association. Through him you know the experts in their group. You must be willing to give up things you love in order to focus on what has the greatest impact. You must focus on essentials in order for you to attain you wishes.
Our champions for today are Dale Thomas Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides. In 2010, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics jointly with Peter Diamond. Mortensen was born in February 1939 in Enterprise, Oregon, USA. He received BA in Economics from Williamette University and his doctorate in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University. He has been in Northwestern University since 1965 as a professor of management economics and Decision Making at the Kellogg School of Management. He is also Visiting Professor at the School of Economics in Aarhus University. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for their analysis of markets with search frictions. He is married to Beverly Mortensen, also a Northwestern Professor.
For Pissarides, he was born in February 1948, a Cypriot economist of Greet descent. He received his BA and MA in economics from the University of Essex. He received his doctorate in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE). He holds the Norman Sosnow chair in Economics and is the director of research at the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE. His research interests focus on several topics notably labour, economic growth and economic policy. His most influential paper is "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment" with Mortensen. Published in 1994, the paper built on the previous contributions that both authors had been making in the past two decades. The Mortensen-Pissarides model resulting from the paper has been very influential in modern economics. Today it is part of the core postgraduate economics curricula throughout the world. From the foregoing, you can see why I have concentrated on economics in drawing my champions. It is because economists have, through research, solved social problems such as poverty, unemployment and insecurity. We are living with them because as a people we lacked the capacity to apply established research solutions.

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