I’ve been working on another post on the theme of vision & goals, and saw a posting on the StrikeFish blog referencing Steve Jobs’ 1997 WWDC closing keynote, and there’s a 5 minute segment at the 4 minute 30 second mark where he talks about focus – and how Apple had suffered from the lack of it.

Context: He’s answering a question regarding a bunch of products Apple killed because although they might have been great technologies, it didn’t fit with where Apple needed to go.

“…Apple suffered for several years from lousy engineering management, I have to say it. And there were people that were going off in 18 different directions, doing arguably interesting things in each one of them.

Good engineers! Lousy management…

And what happened was you look at the farm that’s been created with all these different animals going in different directions, and it doesn’t add up, the total is less than the sum of the parts.

So we had to decide what are the fundamental directions we’re going in, and what makes sense, and what doesn’t. And there were a bunch of things that didn’t. And microcosmically they might have made sense, macrocosmically they made no sense.

And you know the hardest thing is, when you think about focusing right, you think well focusing is about saying yes. No. Focusing is about saying no. Focusing is about saying no. And you got to say no no no. And when you say no, you piss off people…

…and the result of that focus, is going to be really great products, where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.”


Steve Jobs – WWDC 1997 Closing Keynote

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