De-Fragmenting Your Business

As I talk in-depth to small business people (including consultants), I am seeing a pattern over and over again. I think it may actually be endemic for most businesses. Fragmentation.

(apologies, in advance, for the Ugly Graphic!)

What do I mean? Well, over time, offerings become more diverse or less focused (sometimes in response to a rapidly-evolving marketplace), and messages get muddled. Soon, customers are really not sure what we do anymore – instead of being the default “go-to” for some very specific service or product, we’re…a supplier of something, broadly speaking.

In fact, this fragmentation subtly leads us into the habit of broadly speaking, instead of having a precise message. And, like a hard drive with too much scattered data, our messaging becomes inefficient. Hence, the need for regular de-fragmentation.

I see this in larger settings as well, such as pharmaceutical training departments. Courses, programs, workshops – they get added over time to address specific needs, and where once there may have been a strategically-designed curriculum, now there is fragmentation – particularly in a fast-evolving setting.

In fact, this is common among individuals – people who reach a point in their career where they’ve done a bunch of things, but are no longer clear on what their true core competencies and their ideal direction really are. Personal/professional fragmentation.

Have you experienced this? What have you done to de-frag your business and get back to a clear focus?


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

11 Responses to De-Fragmenting Your Business

  1. Steve,

    Totally agree. Staying limited requires dedication and focus. It becomes easy to chase the new thing because it’s new and exciting vs just sticking to your core. A balance for sure, because sometimes you do need to evolve and grow or change your focus a bit to respond to marketplace changes.

    For consultants I could really see it — you take a project that is within your sphere but not really in your wheelhouse because you can and well, the money looks good. Then you take another, and another and pretty soon, you’re the jack of all trades, master (go to guy) of none.


    • Tom, you’ve hit the bullseye on how consultants and small companies often get waylaid. The siren song of short-term revenue, slowly pulling you off course and into the shoals…

      • Vicki says:

        And yet, that short-term revenue keeps the boat afloat and the crew in biscuits. A necessary evil, as it were. How long to wait for the “right” job to come in through the porthole?

  2. Yes Steve and in organizations too. Last night we had a group of entrepreneurs get together to discuss how to create critical mass for the start up community so that would grow in Houston instead of going to other cities that have a better reputation for start ups.

    As I have had time to sit with the discussion and absorb what others have expressed from last night, I am seeing a pattern like you suggest, as a group there has never been that cohesive message or purpose. Too many divergent purposes has kept them from seeing they can still give energy to our over arching purpose; the need for a vibrant start up community that allows us to hit that exponential growth we all want.

    You have me thinking how we can find that core element that will be the catalyst for us to work better together – lord knows we have enough smarts.

    (This was all before any coffee so any grammar or spelling mistakes are your present today ;))

  3. You clearly have a secret camera watching me as my business has grown Steve. Mercifully, I’ve recently pulled it all together under a singular focus. And am experiencing a huge up-tic in success. Whew!

    • Sarah – the fragmentation and guesswork is unbelievably common. A singular focus is the exception, not the rule. Always refreshing to see it come about – and your emphasis on building Fierce Loyalty in communities is a prime example!

  4. Vicki says:

    > In fact, this is common among individuals – people who reach a point in their career where they’ve done a bunch of things, but are no longer clear on what their true core competencies and their ideal direction really are. Personal/professional fragmentation.

    Ouch. This is where I am right now. My position was eliminated last November after a division re-org (my new manager didn’t understand my value to the company). I had spent the previous 5 years building up an expert skill set which is, unfortunately, a niche skill set. Now, in my enforced period of job seeking, I’m asking myself who I am, what I should be doing, where I should be looking. I’m worried that I’ll apply for and be offered a job that I;ll take because I need a job but it won;t be right and I;ll keep looking, keep churning.

    Anyone reading this use TWiki at their site? :-/

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