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Focus on doing one thing well

Does pharma have something to learn from Welsh jeans maker Hiut Denim when it comes to focus?


Whether it’s in the way you apply yourself at work, approach your product strategy, or how you position your brand, it is essential that you focus on doing one thing well.  If you don’t, you risk trying to be all things to all people and being left behind by those who can communicate their value clearly and simply.

Denim doing one thing well

I’ve not had the pleasure of owning a pair of jeans from the Welsh company Hiut Denim Co, but I recently came across their mantra which has driven their success:

We make jeans. That’s it. Nothing else. No distractions. Nothing to steal our focus. No kidding ourselves that we can be good at everything. No trying to conquer the whole world. We just do our best to conquer our bit of it. So each day we come in and make the best jeans we know how. Use the best quality denims. Cut them with an expert eye. And then let our ‘Grand Masters’ behind the sewing machines do the rest.

There is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from making something well, of such superior quality that you know it is going to stand the test of time. It makes the hard work and the obsessing over each and every detail worth all the effort. That’s our reward. That’s why we stick to just making jeans. Yup, we just make jeans. That’s all folks.

Hiut have decided they are a jeans company – not a denim company (despite the brand name), not a clothing company, but a jeans company.  That focus on doing one thing and doing it well is clearly helping them become a global success.

Product positioning should focus on one thing

An example on the opposite end of the spectrum is when brands try to position themselves but end up doing it badly by trying to include their entire value proposition in their positioning statement. As mentioned in this short video about the pharmaceutical industry, “you may find that in trying to say so many things at once, you instead end up saying nothing very well”.

Sadly, this is often a result of decision by committee or a lack of insight on which benefit is of most value to the target audience.  If unsure, the kitchen sink gets thrown in.  There is a reason why in advertising we strategists consider the single-minded proposition the most important element of a creative brief, and getting that wrong by introducing multiple components is the beginning of problems for your client’s campaign.

Try focusing on doing one thing well at work

Hiut talk about ‘no distractions’ and I’m a huge fan of managing my email in blocks of time rather than trying to deal with them as and when they come in.  I turn off my email notifications and just focus on my work at hand.  I find it allows me to dedicate my mind and energy on doing one thing well, much to the dismay of my colleagues who often end up asking me “Did you get my email?”!

I guess you could say I’ve become an advocate of my own style of Pomodoro Technique.  There are six steps in the original technique:

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes)
  3. Work on the task
  4. End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1

While I don’t follow the above steps to the letter, I strongly recommend you try the technique out, or your own version, and see how it impacts your productivity and quality of your work.

Which techniques (maybe you start your day with meditation or yoga?) do you employ to focus yourself or your clients?

4th January 2019



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