Trimming the Fat: Get Your Company On A Diet

In a recent interview on FastCompany, Nike’s President and CEO Mark Parker tells a story about a conversation he had with Apple’s Steve Jobs. At the time Parker was recently hired by Nike and asked Jobs if he had any advice that he could give. At first Jobs balked, but then paused and said that Nike makes some beautiful product, but it also makes a lot of crap. His advice: “Get rid of the crappy stuff” and focus on the good.

This idea drives home a point in an earlier post on Ford – are you doing the right things? Ford, Nike, and like many other companies out there, can get caught up in the idea of diversifying. By trying to please every single market segment, the company loses focus on what it does well. Money that could be spent on making good products great is instead spent on making bad or average products that no one cares about.

If you have 30+ product choices, then you’re trying to appeal to everyone and that’s almost impossible to do. If you ever watch an episode of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay, one of the first problems you’ll find with almost every restaurant is the menu. The restaurant owners think that offering every dish possible will get more customers, but instead it results in poor quality food, and inventory nightmares. If you want to read more about how Chef Ramsay deals with these issues, check out this blog.

Know what you’re good at, and keep making it better. If you stray off the path to satisfy the few outliers, you’ll lose your core audience. In marketing this is known as spray and pray – and even if you’re a large company, this usually isn’t the best approach. If you’re trying to please everyone under the sun, odds are that you’re following market trends instead of innovating and creating a product that people want to talk about. So get rid of the crappy stuff and focus your energy on creating something amazing.

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