15 Years of FOCUS: Mission, Values, and Culture
When Ron Paul founded Focus Engineering & Surveying in 2007, he had a strong desire and a clear vision to be part of something better. As someone who has always looked for opportunities to build and improve things, Ron turned to business books as a source of inspiration to develop skills and business strategies and build a business that was purpose driven.
The Hedgehog Concept
He and eight coworkers started with Good to Great, by Jim Collins. Together they read and discussed each chapter and shared ideas. “The group quickly recognized how much would be needed if we expected to become a great company,” remembers Ron. He recalls long conversations with Tom Romney about the Hedgehog Concept, a notion based on an ancient Greek parable that states, “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” This concept resonated with Tom and Ron. They recognized it as a call for the company to identify its core value proposition and focus only on that single goal instead of pursuing many goals and interests.
Definition of Great
Fast forward more than a decade and another reading of Good to Great – this time by the Management Team. The book defines greatness by comparing subject companies to the stock market during the times when these companies were considered great or transitioning from good to great. “Since the company isn’t publicly traded like those in the book, comparing ourselves to these types of companies would be difficult, so we came up with the FOCUS definition of great,” Ron shares. The team met several times and decided that greatness would be defined as constant improvement and growth. “If we are able to constantly improve in all we do, we can consider ourselves great,” he says. The team defined growth not as the number of employees, but rather as personal and team development.
Training and Mentoring
Constant improvement and growth go much further than a mission statement that is hung on a wall or read periodically during an annual meeting. Every year FOCUS makes a major investment in training and mentoring through programs like FOCUS School of Beginning, Manager Training, t9 Management Team, and FOCUS University. “We invest time in our people to help emphasize our Core Ideology and its application to our business,” notes Ron. “Talking and living our Core Ideology sets us apart as a firm.”
Ensure the Right Fit
Since a successful business involves many more people than just one, FOCUS looks for team members who aspire to the same high standards. The firm’s hiring process is a lengthy one that involves HR, employees, and managers and ultimately department managers and partners. “We have seen the benefits of finding the right people and the cost of hiring the wrong people,” admits Ron. “But we feel we’re now better at hiring and building our team than ever before.”
An emphasis on building relationships naturally extends from employees to clients. While the service and product we provide is extremely important, we do it with the ultimate goal of building strong client relationships. This directly ties to the FOCUS mission: to keep clients happy.
Our mission and values will continue to transform the way we do business, not just now but well into the future. As we continue to invest in each other and nurture our abilities to lead and grow, we are confident the next 15 years will be even brighter.