Simplicity, among other things, is a conscious choice between inclusion and exclusion. Often the magic is in what you leave out. But this means that you need to be comfortable with saying no, to yourself and to others. This is not easy to do. In the two video clips below from 1997, Steve Jobs shares his ideas on simplicity and focus while speaking to the issue of killing OpenDoc (a software framework standard), a decision that was not popular for many people at the time. Jobs's explanations about his decision sheds more light on his thinking process and how his quest for absolute focus was paramount for creating a vision and strategy which were clear. The lessons contained in these clips are generalizable to business, management, and leadership. (Clip 1.)
"Focusing is about saying no. And the result of that focus is going to be some really great products where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts."
It's not about technology, it's about the experience
There are two lessons in this clip below. The first is about keeping your cool under fire and taking the high road during Q&A, even when things get personal. The gentleman (as Jobs called him) in the audience prefaced his question about OpenDoc with this: "It's sad and clear that on several counts you've discussed, you don't know what you're talking about." He ends his question with "and when you're finished with that, perhaps you could tell us what you personally have been doing for the last seven years?" You would not blame Jobs if he showed irritation, but instead he addresses the question—not by getting into a Java vs. Opendoc debate, that's not the point—by laying out more of his thinking and strategy in simple and clear terms. The second lesson is the actual wisdom of his thinking concerning technology, which touches on the line of thinking which says it's not the thing that's important, it's the *experience* of the thing.
"You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with the technology and try to figure out where you're going to try and sell it.....we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, it started with “What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?” Not starting with “Let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and then how are we going to market that?” And I think that’s the right path to take."
— Steve Jobs