Strategy is about focus and saying no

Strategy can be defined in many ways – though I think we can concur that “focus” is a central aspect of strategy.  Focus is sort of interesting (here Mike would push for a definition of “focus”).  In uncertain environments, you want to perhaps keep tabs and options open on many technologies and directions, which is partly antithetical to focus.  An interesting trade-off. More on that later.

But, while we’re still deifying Steve Jobs, here’s a clip where he talks about the importance of focus:

Presentation Zen also has a post about the above clip and a few others.


3 Comments on “Strategy is about focus and saying no”

  1. JC says:

    Can’t resist this – with SJ looking so good and being so clear and non-enigmatic. Nice clip Teppo, thanks.

    But it reminds me of what I learned in the Valley during my sojourn there in the 1980s. We were small and desperate, no revenue, and our Angel’s mouth downturned. I was VP of Strategy and supposed to fix this. The the ‘phone rings and there’s someone saying “Can you do this for us?” the answer, technically, was ‘Yes”, so the right thing to do seemed to be “Yes, Yes, Yes, please send an advance”. But I tried to convince my colleagues that we should say “No” because it would take us ‘off mission’. So we said no. Ten years later we got bought, our Angel made out, and the company is now part of Intel.

    So when Dick says it is about saying no – and cites SJ – it’s what all Valley dwellers had to learn.

    What is more curious is ‘why’. Saying ‘no’ may not be right in the supermarket business – such as CostCo’s decision to get into selling books. In the Valley the challenge is that its universe of opportunity is simply too huge – unimaginably huge – so the greatest strategic threat is forget why you are there and to ‘lose focus’. I would think the very opposite applied in the low-level supermarket business – witness the success of dollar-stores as the economy turned down.

    So it turns out – surprise, surprise – that choosing between yes and no is a strategic choice after all.

  2. Rich Makadok says:

    And here’s the classic statement on this topic from the world’s leading management guru…

    — Rich

  3. JC Spender says:

    Of course I forgot to mention the obvious – strategy is about what to focus on, especially avoiding the navel.


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