The Psychology of Focus: How Great Teams Find Their Way

The opposite of purpose is emptiness. Top business leaders have a dedicated focus that’s relentless.

One of the key elements to surviving difficult times is to remain ruthlessly focused on key objectives for your team.

I have the privilege of working with a small team of craftsmen; in a massive fortune 100 enterprise. One would think it’s hard for a team of 6 to make an impact, BUT you really can! So how do you breakout of JIRA and start to help author a better destination with your company executives? One really useful tool is the:

Amplitudes North Star Framework

It is a model for managing products by identifying a single, leading KPI/metric (the North Star Metric) that your company cares about. (See John Cutler and Amplitude who authored this)

It’s been utilized to great effect in other companies such as LinkedIn and Spotify.

In addition to the metric, the North Star Framework includes a set of key inputs that collectively act as factors that produce the metric. Product teams can directly influence these inputs with their day-to-day work. This is the magic sauce here, it’s about connecting teams with the business imperatives.

This combination of metric and inputs serves three critical purposes in any company:

  • It helps prioritize and accelerate informed but decentralized decision-making.

Put together, the metric and the inputs look like this:

How it helped us

We were able to bridge communication gaps, it brought leadership together as we evolve out of a supporting role. Some of my colleagues like Michael O’Reilly have utilised this to great effect, so it’s not a fluke.

Its allowed decision makers to all get their ideas out there. Then it allowed us to consolidate down on a common goals.


Teams that apply ruthless prioritization are more resilient through these turbulent times as they are driven to the mission.

Reading a tweet from Gregory Hope this week: “Even though a chain pulls into a direction, all links are equally important - one breaks, the chain breaks”.

Some teams in large enterprises are busy crafting excellent solutions that simply needed in isolation.