In June of 2003, Steve Jobs gave a small private presentation about the iTunes Music Store to some independent record label people.
My favorite line of the day was when people kept raising their hand saying, "Does it do ___(x)___?", "Do you plan to add ___(y)___?".
Finally Jobs said, "Wait wait - put your hands down. Listen: I know you have a thousand ideas for all the cool features iTunes could have. So do we. But we don’t want a thousand features. That would be ugly.
Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying NO to all but the most crucial features."
I really do think good product design is all about the courage to follow through on obvious good ideas (like the article said). It's the thing business execs need to get through their skulls. The hard part isn't thinking of good ideas or innovating, it's discipline and courage. They all say they want simplicity and good design, but inevitably cave to deadlines, politics, and short-term financial decisions.
It's unbearably frustrating to watch in my company.
This means their incentives aren't aligned with what's best for the business.
As a counterpoint, there are tons of businesses who've said "yes" lots and have had great success: SalesForce, Oracle, IBM, GE, Microsoft, Google, Nike (yes, even if they though what Jobs said was smart).
I appreciate the article's highlighting of a particular management orientation, but this particular orientation is far from unique or broadly suitable. Know your product, know your market, know your team, know your capabilities and think deeply about how to compose all of those things into an ongoing, growing business concern. Then in 20 years, you'll be giving an interview about how you did it by focusing on the important of telling jokes or something.
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone."
Lately too much relatively "crappy stuff" has been coming out of Google, and it's part of the reason Apple's brand just surpassed Google's, where it had been number one for the last 4 years.
Seth Godin warned Google about this 5 years ago, right when its brand was reaching the number one spot.
He said, "If you blow it too many times in a row, they won't care about Google anymore, and you'll be back to that slot" http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6909078385965257294...).
Hopefully Page will reinvigorate things now that he's back at the helm.
It's a model with merit, but it's not a holy thing that it sometimes is made out to be. It's still, rather obvious perhaps, subordinate to making profits.
It's a way of doing business that's proven to be exceptionally successful. Not only in terms of profit but also creating products that ignite passion in consumers.