The Power of Focus

In both life and business, it’s always a good idea to be open to new opportunities. Especially in the business world, getting stuck in a rut poses real dangers: the lack of innovation can decrease an organization’s competitiveness and even lead it into obsolescence. That’s why many companies’ long-term strategies often emphasize growth (by either development or acquisition) through adding more products and more services in more markets.

At the same time, though, pursuing too many possibilities can have a downside. It is possible for a company that tries too hard to spread itself more widely to end up also spreading itself too thinly. In this case, it isn’t able to devote adequate resources to becoming an expert in a particular area. As a “jack of all trades but master of none,” an organization in this position can struggle to build a reputation as the “go to” firm for specific services or products.

Consider what happened to the Internet pioneers Yahoo and AOL. Many problems contributed to the downfall of what had once been two of the Internet’s most profitable companies, but they have one major factor in common: both companies attempted to broaden their reach by acquiring companies in areas that were unrelated to their core businesses. As they lost their focus through such unsuccessful (and extremely expensive) efforts, both companies also lost their users and, consequently, their financial stability. Yahoo and AOL both failed to realize that when a company expands the scope of its brand, those efforts are more likely to weaken the brand rather than strengthen it. Growth for the sake of growth is not a good thing. But targeted growth that builds on—rather than abandons—a company’s primary mission can be a successful endeavor.

Anyone who’s spent time in corporate America has probably heard of the German software company SAP. Since its founding in the early 1970s, SAP has kept its focus on its core product: enterprise application software (i.e., the software that companies use to manage themselves). By specializing in this one area and being very (very!) good at what it does, SAP has achieved dominance in its field to the point that it’s what comes to people’s mind first when they’re looking for organization-management software. Yes, SAP has pursued aggressive growth, but never at the expense of its niche specialization. With nearly $30 billion in annual revenues, a strong presence throughout the business world (it’s hard to find a large-sized company that doesn’t use SAP software), and constant ongoing development to improve its core products, SAP has clearly adopted a winning strategy.

These lessons hold true across all sectors and in companies of all sizes. Like other strong organizations, Insight Worldwide has stuck to its core values and resisted the temptation to branch off into other areas. Our stated purpose is to provide our clients with “science-based, legally-sound, behavioral hiring assessments” that enable them to optimize their hiring practices and decisions. It would be easy enough for us to add related services such as criminal background checks, drug testing, and employer reference checks. But because those aren’t our specialties, we aren’t going to pursue any of them.

What we do is help companies ask candidates the right questions to elicit responses that shed light on their suitability for certain jobs and organizations. And because Insight Worldwide has made this work our focus for nearly two decades, we are extremely good at it.

One of our clients, the owner of an independent New England based staffing firm, recently offered this testimonial:

“We have always used other hiring best practices and employed systems [such as] background checks, drug screening, skill assessments, and more with our applicants, but it was when we implemented Insight’s integrity solutions [that] it all came together and our firm made real change.”

This company already had access to the “usual” pre-employment assessment tools. But only when that firm started using Insight Worldwide’s specialized services did it get the kind of accurate and useful data that enabled hiring managers to make better decisions. These decisions led to both higher quality relationships with clients and dramatic improvements to their bottom line, including over a third of a million dollars in work comp savings its first year.These numbers alone speak volumes about the effectiveness of our services, which is possible because of our focus on our specialties.

Insight Worldwide’s goal is to provide the best possible pre-employment screening services available and to align our customer service to our clients’ needs so they can make the best possible hiring decisions for their organizations. Therefore, our long-term plan is to keep doing what we’ve been doing all along: improving our core offerings. Insight is at the top of our field, and by focusing on what we do best we plan to stay there. Just as people who run organizations think of SAP first for their enterprise software needs, we want companies to think of Insight Worldwide first for their pre-employment assessment needs.

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