Can principles designers cherish translate to the broader business landscape?
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Issue 032

The power of focus: lessons for designers & businesses alike

There's a profound respect for minimalism and clarity in the design world.

Designers understand that well-crafted products, interfaces, or content are often the result of precision, focus, and avoiding unnecessary clutter.

But can the principles designers cherish - simplicity, intention, and the power of restraint - translate to the broader business landscape?

This article by Roger Martin explores how doing less (but doing it exceptionally well) can revolutionise business strategies, just like it can shape excellence in design.

Here are my takeaways...
⭐ Recommended article by Roger Martin - Thinker, Author, Strategist, Advisor, & Author
8 minute read
Designers appreciate the elegance of simplicity, a principle that is also crucial in the business realm.

Successful businesses recognise the importance of concentrating on their core strengths rather than dispersing energy across numerous ventures.

This concentration can lead to more refined products and processes, while giving designers a better chance of delivering a more straightforward proposition or product experience.

The Entropy Dilemma

In business, as in design, spreading resources too thinly can result in lacklustre outcomes.

When companies diversify excessively, they face the entropy dilemma — the weakening impact of investment. This can cause each venture to underperform, similar to a design that attempts to serve too many functions but excels at none.
An image from an article by Roger Martin illustrating how confident companies do less
Source: Roger L. Martin, 2023
Redefining Business Confidence

True confidence in business is not signified by expanding into many areas but by perfecting and magnifying core offerings. Roger Martin uses Vanguard Group and Southwest Airlines as examples; their success has been rooted in honing specific niches.

Avoiding the Trap of Overextension

Many businesses, unsure of their core strengths, expand into areas outside their most compelling offering.

A tech firm with a product targeting large corporations might unnecessarily begin catering to smaller businesses, diluting its brand essence and overstretching resources.

On the contrary, firms like Apple predominantly focus on high-end products, ensuring their brand remains synonymous with quality. 


Designers can relate, understanding the importance of maintaining a brand's distinctiveness. For designers and businesses alike, understanding and embracing core strengths is pivotal.

As the world grows more complex, the allure of simplicity and concentrated excellence becomes more pronounced.

Whether crafting a design or a business strategy, focusing on what you do best can be the cornerstone of sustained success.
Which companies do you admire for their confidence in a focused business strategy?

Have you worked for a company who has suffered from over diversification?

Get in touch
- I'd love to hear from you and share your stories in a future newsletter.
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