Focus Your Energies Wisely

Don't spend so much time fighting competitors that you lose sight of what's important.

I once heard that friends come and go, but enemies accumulate. So it's rather naïve to promote the idea that everybody is a friend. Benjamin Franklin believed that we all have enemies as well as friends. However, focusing all your energies on destroying your enemies can be bad policy. Apple Computer fell into this trap, which contributed to its rapid decline in the early 1990s.

Throughout the 1980s, Apple Computer targeted IBM as Corporate Enemy No. 1 and designed numerous ad campaigns that were aimed at destroying Big Blue (or was that Big Brother?). During the time Apple's energies were devoted to waging and winning the war against IBM, Microsoft was working furiously on the product that would all but consign Apple's Macintosh to the dustbin of the Digital Age. This product was a graphical user interface called Windows that would make the IBM PC and PC-compatible clones as easy to use as the Macintosh. Had Apple not misidentified its true enemy (or competitor), the history of the Digital Age might be very different indeed.

Excerpted from Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management