Funnel, Focus and Flow

Abundance Organizational leadership Productivity


Key Point: How do we manage not feeling overwhelmed at work? When will things slow down? When will we have the right balance? When will someone set the priorities and tell us what’s most important so we can put tasks in order? When will priorities stop changing so dramatically?

I hear this type of discussion all the time at every level of all organizations. Literally, everyone feels swamped, and most of us question our capacity to sustain the relentless expenditure of our personal resources. And I’m not sure there is a completely satisfactory answer to this debate… However, there may be ways to calm the overflow a little? Or even a lot?

To some extent we are all FUNNELS. Each of has a limited capacity. At the same time, there is likely to be even more pouring into the FUNNEL in the future, not less. Technology, Moore’s Law and what is becoming an even more turbulent, borderless, flat, economic and geopolitical world, translates and tumbles into our daily work and lives in the form of relentless, continuous change. And when the mouth of the FUNNEL is limited by resources, (time, money, people, etc), it is natural to want to adjust it by expanding resources and/or lessening the volume. Yet, there is only so much fiddling with top of the FUNNEL we can do. The conclusion is almost always the same. Too much stuff… Too small of a funnel. So how do we cope?

My view is that trying to narrow or constrict what comes in at the top may help with focus, but it does little to help with capacity. My argument is to turn our attention toward how stuff gets through more than fussing exclusively about managing the “top.” We might get more return by attacking and improving FLOW through the funnel. As an example, asking the IT department to do less these days is literally a big fat waste of time. The projects and needs are always outstripping capacity at the top of the funnel. And delaying people who have projects circling around the top is like air traffic control making it more “reasonable” by restricting access to runways and allowing planes to land only at certain times. Yet, there is usually a natural limit to the top of the funnel due to limited resources.

The same metaphor applies to us individually. We may have more capacity if we urgently and relentlessly improve FLOW. That is, if we allow “stuff” to flow through the funnel easier, faster, with less resistance and destructive conflict, it helps us reframe the way we feel about the amount. The momentum of positive flow normally positions both the organization and individual to be in an advantageous space. Life will be no less turbulent, and no less resource constrained. But the speed of flow to achieve results is much smoother.

Character Moves:

  1. Learn to get more results done by improving flow first. Find new and better ways. For an organization, this means breaking down stupid barriers, rules, policies and structures that restrict rather than accelerate. As an individual, find ways to better learn, self improve, communicate, develop relationships and get results. Time is a reality, not an excuse. Stop whining and blaming everything else on “can’t.” You’re the only one capable of establishing balance. 
  2. Choosing and determining priorities to control your own your agenda is a great joy in life. Before full technological mobility, time away from work meant rest. The decision to not “do work” was easy. Someone set hours, controlled overtime, and locked workspaces. Today, many of us are able to decide when it’s “enough.” Yay! We’re not going back and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a mindset matter. That’s what self-accountability is about.
  3. Create meaningful value for yourself and others or stop doing it. That’s the best filter at the top of the funnel. Focusing and flowing… It’s not perfect but a better answer than hand wringing and hoping for the day the merry go round stops… Don’t worry; it will stop permanently sooner than you can blink. In the mean time… 🙂

Flow focused in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: I’m a fan of asking questions… What’s most important? What can wait? What can I do to contribute in the best way right now? Maybe that’ll help change what kind of “ingredients” that are added to your funnel. Maybe next time it’ll be more premium stuff. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis