February 26, 2013

Peter Thiel and Extreme Focus

Peter ThielLast year I wrote about the power of focus and not doing things.  Doing fewer things delivers better results at the few things you do.

I thought that was pretty good.  Then I read about Peter Thiel’s philosophy of extreme focus.

Thiel believes that people should work only on their one most important project until it is finished.  Paypal executive Keith Rabois recalls that Thiel “would refuse to discuss virtually anything else with you except what was currently assigned as your number one initiative.”

Rabois also explained:

“The most important benefit of this approach is that it impels the organization to solve the challenges with the highest impact. Without this discipline, there is a consistent tendency of employees to address the easier to conquer, albeit less valuable, imperatives. As a specific example, if you have 3 priorities and the most difficult one lacks a clear solution, most people will gravitate towards the 2d order task with a clearer path to an answer.

As a result, the organization collectively performs at a B+ or A- level, but misses many of the opportunities for a step-function in value creation.”

He’s absolutely right.  I choose to do less important tasks all the time because they’re easier then my more important ones.

The challenge is to do it.  I’m gonna try it out.  I challenge my readers to do the same.  We’ll compare notes next month.

Game on!