daily articles for founders

Focus and myopia  

Here's a really excellent article by Dharmesh Shah that deconstructs the glib advice that "focus is key":

So, here's my point: Talking about focus is useless unless you consider the level of abstraction you're talking about. If you squint just right, any activity you're looking at seems de-focused. In the iPod example above, I could argue that Apple showed considerable restraint and focus by not going out and building a Hollywood production studio and creating content. Or, I could argue the flip-side and say they lost focus from their core.

I agree that focus is about saying no. But that's not all of it. By saying no repeatedly, what you're buying yourself is the ability to say yes to something much, much better. You're not freeing up resources just to hoard them away. You're freeing them up so you can apply them better — either by saying “yes” to something new or doubling-down on bets you've already made. So, the benefit of saying no to a bunch of wrong things is only realized when you find a way to say yes to the right thing. Important note: I'm primarily talking here about high-level company strategy. If we were talking about focus as it applies to product management, saying “no” to new features has intrinsic value by just keeping things simple.

Advice is always highly contextual, and most people don't take the time to figure out whether their context is right for the advice they're looking to apply. This type of article is very useful in that it takes an apparent truism and shows how variable it is.

After all, the opposite of every profound truth is another profound truth (Niels Bohr), so unless you know how to apply profound truths usefully, they can hurt you as much as help you.

Read the whole article here.

More from the library:
Corrosive Acquihires
Patrick McKenzie's work on the Fog Creek website
How to deliver an elevator pitch
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