Steve Jobs quote on Focus

This quote on Focus from Steve Jobs summarises a temptation too many of us fail to resist.

“Focus comes from saying no to a thousand things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”

I call this the shiny-shiny syndrome and it’s been strong in every business I’ve worked with or for. It’s the desire to pursue every new idea as soon as somebody influential thinks of it. It makes brilliant businesses utterly mediocre.

When Jobs was brought back to Apple he introduced a raft of simplifications to the business, including cutting 15 product lines down to 4. “…if we only get four, we could put the A-Team on every single one of them. And if we only have four, we could turn them all every nine months instead of every 18 months. And if we only had, four we could be working on the next generation or two of each one, as we’re introducing the first generation.”

Do less, but do it better.

When you plan your strategy, keep it focused and appropriate to your resources:

  • Targeting: think about who you’re NOT going to aim for. “Matter a lot to a few people” (Seth Godin).
  • Positioning: think about the claims you’re NOT going to make because they don’t matter to the people you’re targeting.
  • Objectives: stick to 3 or 4, not 10 or 12.
  • Products: focus on a few gems, kills the shit ones.
  • Brands: one. If you have several product lines, make yourself a branded house (Virgin) not a house of brands (Unilever). You can’t maintain more than one.

Michael Porter made a similar quote about strategy being what you don’t do. It’s later in this series.

Focus means sacrificing things you really care about, that you think are brilliant ideas, not dross you didn’t care about anyway. You do that because your focus is on something better that deserves to come to fruition.
And once the decision’s made, it’s made. Don’t revisit. Make the decision right first time.

Projects are like bridges: totally pointless until they’re 100% complete.