One of the things I discovered when I moved from academia and research into the business world is that there are an awful lot of rules that you’re supposed to follow. A lot of received wisdom, and if you are reluctant to receive it, you won’t get taken seriously by others. That’s a problem if you are dependent on them for funding, for orders, for recruitment or whatever. Things that seem to normal people as if they might be a good idea because, say, you’d buy one and all your friends would too, are countered with a whole barrage of reasons why they wouldn’t work because “it isn’t done that way”. If you live with it for long enough, you learn the rules, build a proper business, and stop having good ideas that appeal to normal people.
One thing that is traditionally held to be very important for a business is a very clear focus. As someone once put it, “If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either of them”. This makes a lot of sense, and I have repeated it to others.
But an inner, rebellious, part of me rejoices when I read an article pointing out that Apple, whose recent share performance is the envy of suits everywhere, breaks many of the cardinal rules.