As a new CEO of Mutobero Christian Hospital, Dr. Bagadawa had a pretty long to-do list. After settling in office, he took a tour and noticed the hospital which had been founded by a missionary in 1929 needed a new coating, as the old paint had since worn off leaving a grim shade. Then he also discovered equipment in the two hospital theaters had since aged and there was a definite need to refurbish both with modern instruments.
Dr Bagadawa also noted the accounts department was using outdated software making it hard to track income and expenditures. However, he was aware of a new system that could do wonders. Lately, the hospital had lost a number of senior medical staff to a competing private hospital. He decided to review and upgrade hospital salaries.
In brief, Dr. Bagadawa was not short of what to do. When he met with his top management team, he drew their attention to this mile-long list. “I intend to refurbish the hospital by overhauling its look to make it attractive and appealing,” he declared. “I will also purchase a new accounting software system to track our finances. The two theaters not only need overhaul but given the trends, we need to add on a new one.”
“This seems a long list,” observed one senior doctor, who was about to retire. “Where shall you get all the time and resources!”
“We shall manage,” Dr. Bagadawa quipped back, sensing a bit of resistance. The meeting ended abruptly.
Immediately Dr. Bagadawa set out to accomplish the dozen tasks, on his list. However, the list kept growing. Dr. Bagadawa discovered that the hospital fleet was ageing and he resolved to order new trucks. Then he also noticed that staff houses had caged in and he started engaging a developer to build a new staff housing bloc.
Dr. Bagadawa was running everywhere while supervising his list, except that work was moving too slowly. There was always the issue of finances. Every now and then his accountant would tell him that there wasn’t enough money. “The problem sir you keep adding on to the list!”
Midway through his five-year term Dr. Bagadawa noticed that of all the dozen things on his list, he had hardly seen any to maturity. One day during a meeting with his Board, a member expressed concern. “All we hear from you is talk and talk but nothing gets accomplished!”
When Top management team met, Dr. Bagadawa wondered why nothing was being realized. “Is it because of sabotage!”
“I don’t think it is sabotage,” said the senior doctor who, being close to retirement was quite free in his expression. “The problem is lack of focus. If out of all these good things you have in mind we prioritize and start on the most urgent and important few before moving on to the rest, chances are high for us to accomplish much.”
Dr Bagadawa thought through the suggestion. He recalled a time when he failed to pass his A’level exams because he was everywhere, taking on all sorts of extracurricular activities, at the expense of his school work. “You need to start focusing on a few things to excel,” said the headmaster, giving him another chance. He took that advice, repeated and with focused concentration on his studies, passed highly.
Dr. Bagadawa, therefore, decided to concentrate on a few priority areas, which he aligned the budget with. This made it easier for him to oversee and ensure results. It was only after one task had been accomplished that he would move to the next. If he came up with a new idea, he would add it at the bottom, for it to wait its turn.
Focus is one of the most powerful tools for managers to be effective. Unless so, the manager may spread himself thin and end up achieving far less, if any.