At a recent event attended by Steve Jobs, the Nike President invited Jobs to offer advice to the Nike organization. Steve Jobs, without hesitation said:
“Well, just one thing,” said Jobs. “Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. Absolutely beautiful, stunning products. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.”
It used to be common in business school education to hear the word ‘diversify’ in context with reducing risk. Jobs’ philosophy on the other hand is to focus on one or two things that are peak perfection. Jobs: “Apple is a $30 billion company yet we’ve got less than 30 major products.”
In product design and business strategy, subtraction often adds value. “Whether we’re talking about a product, a performance, a market, or an organization, our addiction to addition results in inconsistency, overload, or waste, and sometimes all three,” writes Matthew May.
This article in Fast Company leaves us with a challenge:
Anyone can learn the principles that drive Apple’s innovation, but innovation takes courage, and few people have it. It takes courage to reduce the number of products a company offers from 350 to 10, as Jobs did in 1998. It takes courage to remove a keyboard from the face of a smartphone and replace those buttons with a giant screen, as Jobs did with the iPhone. It takes courage to eliminate code from an operating system to make it more stable and reliable, as Apple did with Snow Leopard. It takes courage to eliminate all of the words on a PowerPoint slide except one, as Steve Jobs often does in a presentation. It takes courage to feature just one product on the home page of a Web site. It takes courage to launch fewer new products in a year than your competitors launch in a month. It takes courage to adopt unpopular stands, such as saying Adobe flash is unfit for the modern mobile era, as Jobs did in April of 2010. And it takes courage to make a product so simple that a child can use it.
Do you have the guts to keep things simple?