in Great Stories

A Steve Jobs Story on Simplicity and Focus

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is on my reading list and I was curious to have some initial reviews about the book. Matthew E. May recently reviewed the book on his blog.

In a post titled “The Zen Master of Subtraction: Steve Jobs”, Matt shares some very interesting stories/snippets about how Steve Jobs generated extreme focus by virtue of elimination.

I borrow the following story from his blog:

Once a year Jobs took his most valuable employees on a retreat, which he called “The Top 100.” They were picked based on a simple guideline: the people you would bring with you if you could only take a hundred people with you on a lifeboat to your next company. At the end of the retreat, Jobs would stand in front of a whiteboard (he loved whiteboards because they gave him complete control of a situation and they engendered focus) and ask, “What are the ten things we should be doing next?” People would fight to get their suggestions on the list. Jobs would write them down, and then cross off the ones he decreed dumb. After much jockeying, the group would come up with a list of ten. Then Jobs would slash the bottom seven and announce, “We can only do three.”

With all the clutter around us, thinking about simplicity is hard. As individuals and organizations, we can do so many things with our abilities that we end up running in different directions to attempt all of them, spreading ourselves thin.

Most people (and organizations) do more on more. More work on more number of priorities. The key is to do more on less – more focus and better execution on a fewer set of priorities. That is what “being lean” is all about – focus on being effective, eliminate clutter, clarify your priorities and then execute like hell.

Check out Matt’s review. I now look forward to reading the book and peek into the life of Jobs.

  1. Nice Blog Sir,

    Good to read and get inspired – I guess he knew how to get best out of his people. Just reminds me a quote

    “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they are basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Amazing post again. Jobs has given so manythings to our world and we are glad to have people like Tanmay/Matt around to re-share them to us.

    Thanks.

  3. “Focus on being effective, eliminate clutter, clarify your priorities and then execute like hell.”

    Execute like hell…Excellent!

    • As someone who is an executor (and a student of effective execution), I knew that statement would resonate well with you. Thanks for the comment my friend.

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