Focus on Impacts, not Efforts

Edmond Lau
4 min readMay 28, 2022
Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

What does it mean to focus on impacts and not efforts? Work and professional life are essentially a marathon, not a sprint. So we should focus on outcomes and not outputs. This is particularly important with small teams and startups, where resources are scarce. Leaders should be frugal with our people’s time to focus on meaningful work, streamline processes, and remove as many roadblocks as possible. Therefore, we should optimize for the highest overall impacts and not the highest amount of work. This will allow a decent work-life balance for everyone on the team.

Here are a few tips to help you move your team to focus and optimize impactful work.

Define Simple Core Metrics

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The key is to keep core metrics simple to simplify the prioritization process and communication among team members. Identify precisely what you want to optimize for using one or two metrics at most; this will make everyone clear on the organization’s goal and what the main focus is. A few examples:

  • User satisfaction and retention (near zero churns, high NPS score)
  • Customer acquisitions (lead generations, new paying customers)
  • Technology innovations (patentable opportunities)
  • Profitability (revenue > cost of goods sold + human resources)

When management calls out all these as crucial metrics, people in the organization will get confused with priorities because each example above, in some way, conflicts with each other. Trying to prioritize everything will create fragmented viewpoints of what is truly the most important.

Ruthless Prioritization

When you have simple core metrics that the team follows, prioritization becomes easy. Team members can organize work together and select the next set of tasks or features to complete. When there is equally important work, they can use feasibility or time-estimate as the…

Edmond Lau

CTO, Advisor, Mentor, Architect, Product Management