How to `Say No to 1,000 Things’

Launching new products is a lot of fun, especially if you have the financial and human resources behind you and what you think is a Pretty Good Idea.  What’s not fun to a lot of people is shutting down products, saying no to an idea that seems pretty good, and resisting the bells and whistles that often detract from the core customer promise.  It’s just so tempting to launch, add, enhance, expand. As we come close to the mid-year evaluation of our businesses and what we’ve accomplished so far, and revenue initiatives that are do-able this year, I point to some advice that Apple’s Steve Jobs gave Nike CEO Mark Parker, as relayed by Carmine Gallo on

“Nike makes some of the best products in the world… But you also make a lot of crap.  Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.”  Parker said Jobs paused and Parker filled the quiet with a chuckle.  But Jobs didn’t laugh.  He was serious. “He was absolutely right,” said Parker.  “We had to edit.”

And by “edit” he meant taking a hard look at the Nike portfolio and getting rid of the average to pretty good stuff and focusing on the absolute best products in the line. Jobs also advised Parker to “say no to a thousand things.”

One might think it’s easy for the head of the most valuable brand in the world to say this.  The simplicity of the message mirrors the simplicity in design and functionality of the Apple products, from the iphone to the ipad.  What is also telling about this story is that the head of Nike sought advice from another leader in the business — and then shared it with a writer (Carmine Gallo).  The best executives are in constant search of smart insights to make them better at what they do.

So as you ponder launching a new practice within your PR firm, or seven new, awesome features to your product or service, also ponder what you can get rid of and practice saying “no” to some pretty good ideas so you can focus on the Great Idea.  As one shoe and apparel company exec would say: “Just do it.”

– Diane Schwartz