Category Archives: Planning

Apple, Steve Jobs and the Ability to Focus

Living the Dash comments on Apple’s ability to focus, and how it pretty much proves the fact that less is almost always more. Read the whole thing.

Here’s the quote by Steve Jobs on focus:

“Apple is a $30 billion company, yet we’ve got less than 30 major products. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before. Certainly the great consumer electronics companies of the past had thousands of products. We tend to focus much more. 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.”

Amazing to think that Apple only has 30 products. However, they have the manpower to give each of those products the attention and focus it needs to become great.

Start saying no – to potential clients, promotional opportunities, new products and vendors that don’t fit. Opportunities will always be knocking, but you should never just let strangers walk right in.

Similar posts on Brett’s Blog:

  1. Branding: A Product of Strategy
  2. Return on Attention 

What’s Your Oboe?

Tuning Up Your Small BusinessMy wife and I spent our Friday night at the Meyerson in Dallas listening to Amy Grant and band play with the Dallas Pops Orchestra behind. It was nice, especially for my wife who is one of the biggest Amy Grant fans on the planet.

As things got started, the orchestra began the tuning process. You know the one: you hear a single note, then lots of single notes from different instruments, and then all sonic hell breaks loose for about 30 seconds. And then they just stop.

I had forgotten that the oboe is always the instrument that starts things off. The rest of the orchestra tunes to the oboe, apparently because oboes cannot adjust intonation like other instruments. In other words, the oboe is the standard for the rest of the orchestra to compare to. It is ground zero.

Everyone needs the occassional tune-up, but what are you tuning to? What is your standard, your ground zero? In the case of business and marketing, it’s entirely too easy and too tempting to chase projects beyond your area of strategic focus. Sometimes it’s a wise move; sometimes it’s not. However, it’s inevitable, at least to a certain degree.

The key is knowing what your oboe is, and taking time on a regular basis to tune accordingly. Is your firm dedicated to providing marketing help to small business? Check in every once in a while to be sure you’re not chasing too many large corporations. Are you a designer or writer who specializes and shines in the B2B market? Then limit what you chase in the B2C world.

Identify your oboe and schedule time for tuning. Otherwise, you’ll end up tuning to a trombone or timpani, and nobody wants that.

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Be Your Own Consultant

Here’s a fact: no matter how great an idea, we can all get a little overwhelmed, whipped or both with the implementation of our strategies.  Regardless of how much you enjoy your work, the little details to pull of your great ideas will get to you eventually, at least from time to time.

And it’s in this spirit of human nature that we often let the little troubles of what we have to do sideline the meaningful things that we know we should do.

In other words, if you weren’t the person who actually had to implement your own ideas, you’d probably have some really great ones out there.

Instead, we too often settle for mediocrity.

So here’s a solution: Be your own consultant.

In the office, consultants often get a bad rap because they come in, give their opinions and advice, and then let everyone else actually implement it. As jealous and/or frustrated as the regular employees get about it, the consultants are actually doing what they’re hired to do. Consultants are hired to help clarify what the normal employees need to do. They bring perspective.

Now, if you can do that with yourself, and somehow turn off your operational mind on why the great ideas you come up with won’t work, or your project management persona that demands an extensive timeline with weeks and weeks of contigencies, then you might actually get somewhere.

Go ahead – hire yourself as a consultant. If you were a consultant for someone in your position, what would you suggest they do? Map it out for them.

Then, when that’s over, go do it. It’s a lot better than letting someone else tell you what to do, and it’s a great way of nipping your tried and true excuses in the bud.