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A Brain Map for How to Spend Executive Time

As an owner of a small business, or as a key manager in that business, ever wonder what you should be spending your time on?  You might ask yourself, from time to time, “Am I focusing on the right things?”

Too bad most of us don’t learn in school what we should think about or how we should allocate our time and brain power in business.  We have to figure it out on our own.

One clue for how to do this is to emulate what the CEOs of large corporations do ….  Because if you want your business to grow, you might look at what it takes to grow to become a successful large business.

Today’s New York Times has an article [1] about HP that points to the company’s turnaround through tight fiscal management under CEO Mark Hurd (note: HP is a sponsor of Small Business Trends).  One of the instructive parts of the article for small business owners is a map of Mark Hurd’s brain.  The New York Times laid out the four concerns that he thinks about at all times as the CEO.  Here’s the brain map:

Based on the map that appeared in the New York Times, you can see that Hurd is putting part of his attention on current concerns, and part of his mindshare is on the future.

Also, part of his brain focuses inside the four walls, with how the company is performing.  The other part of his focus is outside the four walls, with what the competition is doing and the latest trends in the marketplace.

Here is my conceptual map based on his thought processes, for what small business executives should be focusing on:

Maybe this map is wishful thinking for small businesspeople.  I would be willing to bet that most of us are far more focused internally on our own operations and profitability — and with the here-and-now.  We give far less attention to things going on outside our companies and to what the future holds.  I’m not saying that is the way it should be, just the way it probably is.  We have limited time and we spend it on whatever is urgent and ensures the survival and smooth operation of our businesses.  That necessarily forces us to put most of our attention inside our companies.

But if that’s the case, it’s all the more reason to make a conscious effort to devote more mindshare to what’s happening out in the marketplace.  We should think more about the future and trends.  How else will we ever grow our businesses if we don’t make time to raise our heads up above our daily tasks?



The question for you is, how do you spend your time?  Would the map of your brain look like this?