Can a Ballet Technique Help Your Business?

11102015 BlogIn ballet, they call it “spotting”, and the concept is as important for business as it is for dance.

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My pre-teen daughter has been dancing for over 6 years now.   Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Jazz – she loves them all! As a result, if you can’t find me at work or home, I’m likely to be found sitting many hours at the studio – iPad or computer on my lap – peeking in to watch her classes.

This weekend, when I looked in, there they were… spinning and spinning, round and round across the room. Dancer after dancer, each one started at one corner and spun across the full length of room. Just watching them made me dizzy, and you’d expect them to fall on the floor at the end. But they didn’t’. In fact, they weren’t affected at all because they’ve learned the skill of “spotting”.

Spotting in Dance

The goal of spotting in dance is the following:

“To attain a constant orientation of the dancer’s head and eyes, to the extent possible, in order to enhance the dancer’s control and prevent dizziness”

Essentially, it occurs when a dancer rotates their body at a constant rate, but rotates their head in such a way to keep their gaze fix on a single location or SPOT.   This video shows exactly what I’m talking about.

It occurred to me that the concept of “spotting” in dance is very similar to the concept of “focus” in business, and in fact, the benefits are also strikingly similar.

4 Benefits of Spotting:

Here are 4 key benefits:

Benefits of “Spotting” in Dance Benefits of “Focus” in Business
  1. Spotting prevents dizziness by providing a fixed focus for the eyes.
In business, there are often many moving parts to consider, and it is easy for a team to get distracted with many things.   When that happens, efforts quickly become fragmented and results sub-optimized.  Rather than being “an inch deep and a mile wide”, leaders who provide a “fixed focus” of goals for their organizations will prevent confusion and guarantee alignment.
  1. The fixed focus from spotting also helps the dancer control balance.
An organization without focus is unbalanced in its ability to execute.  This misalignment can cause different functions to not only work poorly together, but actually move in cross-purposes with each other preventing success and minimizing productivity.   In business as in ballet, fixed focus and balanced alignment are the keys to effective execution.
  1. It helps the dancer control the direction of travel during traveling turns such as chaînés and piques.
Every business is headed somewhere in the future, but where they end up depends a lot on where they look.  Businesses who spend a lot of time looking at the past, stay in the past.  Businesses who focus solely on the present, never leave it.  By setting focused direction for the future, leaders can successfully control the direction of the organization and direct it as it travels toward growth.
  1. Over time, a dancer’s brain adapts to suppress the feeling of dizziness.

(2013 Study from Imperial College of London)

Every leader wants to have productive and empowered employees.  But unfocused and misaligned organizations are the antidote for achieving that.  Rather, employees become task-oriented and reactive as a result.  On the other hand, leaders who maintain a constant orientation of their teams focus on clear, SMART goals enable them to adapt for success not only in their current roles, but in their roles to come.


“Spotting” as a technique is key to effective execution in dance. In the same way, “ focus” as a technique is a key to effective execution in business. But to take advantage of the benefits in both, you have to apply them in the right way.

To bring more “spotting” (aka focus) to our organizations, here are 4 steps we, as leaders, can take to get there:

  • Identify the focal point: Of all the potential options the business could consider, help prioritize and narrow them down to a list of no more than 3 to 5 critical ones.
  • Eliminate other distractions: As tempting as it can be pursue “new shiny opportunities” as they come along, create and share ways to determine if something is strategic or opportunistic. Guide and coach our teams to clear out the clutter and keep their eyes fixed.
  • Maintain movement: Keep track of execution efforts to ensure progress along the way opposite the focused goals and objectives. Ensure smooth transitions of people and processes to keep momentum.
  • “Snap our head” when needed: Be ready to move quickly when the time is right to capture our goals. Avoid missteps with hesitation, but anticipate course corrections as needed.


QUESTION: How do you help your organization remain focused?  Share your experiences & answers with me below.

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Jill Cohen is a seasoned senior-level executive, with a proven track record for visioning opportunity, driving business growth and sustaining profitability. Contact Jill for more information, or visit her website to read more content & learn about services and successes.