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What Is Your Main Thing?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We all muse about not being able to see the forest through the trees. But in reality, we spend most of our days staring at bark. It's July -- the first month of the back half of the year. It's an ideal time to hover and ask, "What is truly important?"

We've read about missions, strategies, values and critical success factors. Sometimes it's confusing. So, let's be clear and simple. What is "the main thing for your organization?" What is the most important thing to get right?

IBM (IBM - Get Report) semiconductor's main thing is to "Fill the Fab." Many of today's fabrication plants cost more than $1 billion to build. It is simply impossible to turn a profit if the fab is not full. That may mean selling more, offering contract manufacturing, or partnering with competitors to balance loads. At IBM Semiconductor, the general manager repeatedly drives focus around filling the fab, "How do your key performance indicators help us fill the fab?" "Does this business meeting help us fill the fab? If not, how will we change it or shall we cancel it?"

The main thing is not a financial goal. The main thing is what is required for you or your organization to survive. It is the most important thing to do well to achieve your financial goals.

For FedEx (FDX - Get Report), the main thing is to get packages to the destination on-time, every time. While competitors have historically provided more specialty services, such as shipping whales to theme parks, FedEx prides itself on reliably delivering basic services.

For Sam Walton the main thing was a well-managed store. Walton famously said that if you take care of the "box" you take care of the business.

The main thing is not a strategy. Disney's (DIS - Get Report) main thing is to provide customers a magical experience. Disney's strategy to create that magical experience begins with an animated movie. A successful movie generates toys for distribution through a Disney Store, a new ride at Disneyland, a Broadway show, new characters on Disney Cruise Lines, and more.
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