One of Steve Job’s greatest strengths was knowing how to focus. When he came back to Apple in 1997 as a consultant, he found a company that was severely unfocussed.  Apple had a dozen different versions of the Macintosh and each of the versions had a different confusing number ranging from 1400 to 9600. Even Jobs couldn’t figure out how to recommend which versions one of his friends should buy.

At one product session, Jobs had had enough and he grabbed a magic marker and drew a four square chart on a whiteboard. “Here’s what we need,” he stated. On top of the two columns he wrote Consumer and Pro. The two rows he labeled Desktop and Portable. Apples’ new focused job was to make four products, one in each quadrant. This ability to focus saved Apple from extinction.

“Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do. That’s true for companies, and its true for products.” And it’s true for managers.

If you’re having trouble figuring what to focus on, then sit back and think. What are you doing that gives you the best bang for the buck in:

  • delivering and improving quality,
  • reducing cost, or
  • saving time.