As I make my way through this world of ours — as Indiana Jones said, it’s not the years, it’s the mileage — I’m less and less convinced that anchoring on any single thing is the best way to make progress. Sure, focus is to be cherished, but it’s energy that needs to be focused, not the target. In other words, don’t mistake a narrow field of vision (or a small target) for a focused point of view.
Simplicity should be cherished, but simplistic approaches must be shunned.
I’m still wrestling with the ideas I just threw out above, but John Maeda’s post Do Both gave me a big push forward. In it he says:
Is it cheaper to improve a product’s reliability and functionality? Or is it cheaper to improve a product’s desirability? Considering the marginal costs of additional research and development, combined with production, testing, assurance, and so forth, the answer is fairly clear. Investing in advertising is a cost-effective way to increase the profit for an existing product. If the campaign is any good of course.
What determines "good"? Is it the copy? Is it the visuals? Is it the celebrity that has been chosen to be the head cheerleader? Seems like there are tons of subjective variables to consider that will ultimately define success or failure… Do both.
Do both. Do everything needed, no more, no less. With focused energy. I think that’s a good recipe for innovation.