Saying No

This month’s Fortune Magazine has an interview with Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, who’s company Fortune named the most innovative in the same issue. Jobs is a master at answering the question he wish had been asked. But this time he kept on topic and gave direct answers most of the time. One idea he mentioned struck a chord when he discussed where where Apple places its focus:

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.

As the company I work for makes a play into new opportunities, I’m left to wonder if that’s such a good idea. It’s tempting to run after the new technology and convince yourself that gaining "first mover advantage" is worth the investment and risks. It had better be something where we can not just be a player, but be the best. Otherwise, we’ll be mediocre players in many markets. Boring.

Apple knows what it does well and it executes near flawless campaigns that ignite consumer passion and excitement. They don’t make dozens of computer models like Dell or HP. They don’t feel they have to be involved in every single software and service niche like Microsoft does. They aren’t trying to be all things to all people. They are focused on those products where they shine brightest. What they end up with are iconic products like the iPod which kick ass and take names.

Where does your company focus it’s people and investments? Does it know what it does better than anyone else?

Link to Jobs interview

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