Setting the example… why you should stop multi-tasking

January 26, 2010

As a venture partner within a firm where we invest growth capital in expansion stage software companies I spend a lot of my time coaching founders and executives on how and where to spend their time productively and efficiently.

As an executive who has spent his whole career in the high tech software industry, first as a sales and operational executive and now as an operational venture partner with OpenView Partners, having the discipline to do one thing at a time… as old fashioned as it sounds in today’s world of multi-tasking has been critical to my success. While this may be contrary to what many people think there was a study that came out from Stanford that validates this perspective.

As a founder, CEO or senior executive you set the tone for your company, management team and employees. Whether you like it or not people follow your example. Therefore you need to lead by example so the team understands the importance of discipline, focus and attention to the task at hand.

Having the discipline to turn your phone off or better yet leave it in your bag so you are not scanning emails or text messages when you are having discussions with individuals, your management team, partners or prospects and customers.

Not looking at your laptop during meetings and discussions in your office.

In group meetings asking everyone to turn their PCs and phones off or better yet leave them in their offices. If notes need to be taken designate a scribe for the group.

In a board meeting asking your investors to leave their blackberry in their bags.

The above actions send the right message and help set the tone. By removing the distraction and noise from multi-tasking you bring clarity to the mission and the teams actions. You will create more focus within your management team and company. The team will execute better and the results will show up in bookings, revenue growth and your bottom line.

All of the OpenView firm members and executives I work with across the portfolio are probably sick of hearing me say that doing less is more and focusing on the few things that matter really does matter.

Expansion stage software companies looking to achieve a successful exit… be it IPO or strategic acquisition do so through Strategy, Focus and Execution not multi-tasking.

All the best!


Venture Partner

<strong>George Roberts</strong> is a Venture Partner at OpenView. He enjoys partnering with companies and helping them achieve their goals through strategy, focus and operational execution. From 1990 to 2003, George spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation, most recently having served as Executive Vice President of North American Sales. While at Oracle, George was responsible for over $1 billion in revenue and more than 2,000 employees, reporting directly to the company’s CEO and Chairman, Larry Ellison.