Steve Jobs knew that even great ideas can kill productivity.
"Focusing is about saying 'no,'" the late co-founder explained at Apple's 1997 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). "You've got to say 'no, no, no' and when you say 'no,' you piss off people."
To Jobs, focus wasn't about willpower. It was about the courage to abandon 1,000 great ideas to meet one big goal — even if that made people mad in the process.
1997 brought great turmoil to Apple. Its 1996 holiday sales fell far short of their goals, paving the way for a major restructuring. Apple execs developed 'hot lists' and 'hit lists' to determine what projects would stay funded. That year, Apple laid off one third of its workforce.