A couple of days ago Microsoft unveiled a sneak peek at Xbox One, an update on their popular gaming console that is expected to debut later this year (along with rival Sony’s PS4). Seconds after doing so, the internet exploded with rage … and not all of it was the good kind.
What gamers’ many cries have essentially boiled down to is that a system whose main purpose is gaming has advanced in every possible direction except gaming. Microsoft apologists are saying that it’s all a big miscommunication and the cool gaming stuff will be detailed at a later date, and this reveal event was just poor. During said event, they touted Xbox One as revolutionizing experiences like watching live TV, streaming movies, browsing the internet, voice command, and social media, while their advances in gaming amount basically to a canine companion in the new Call of Duty game.
Gamers came away screaming that they don’t need their gaming system to be a smartphone, laptop, TV, and DVD player, they just want it to be a freaking gaming system. Now, granted, these thousands of complaints contain quite a bit of hyperbole and internet hate, but there’s also an element of truth that every company needs to pay attention to or risk losing their core audience.
The lesson is about not losing sight of what makes your business unique. I’ve heard a bunch of analogies that illustrate this lesson (I’ve heard one involving a rope and tiny threads separating from it, for instance), but I like the tree one a little better.
Think of a tree chart or diagram as representing your business (like a family tree). Let’s say the core of your business (the trunk) is niche staffing, and each of the branches represent other services or revenue streams you offer (staffing outside that niche, consulting, speaking engagements, etc.). As you concentrate resources on those branches (kinda like water and sunlight), they grow larger and their weight starts to wear on the trunk. Eventually, that tree could topple or break.
The idea is that you have to nurture the trunk – you can’t lose sight of your business’ core. You can add more little branches occasionally, and they may thrive and grow, but ultimately you can’t forget about what’s supporting those branches.
Granted, sometimes what makes a business unique will change over time. So maybe the analogy for that involves an acorn falling from that branch and growing a second tree that ends up being taller than the first one, and it steals the sunlight from the original and slowly kills it. But let’s just say I highly doubt that the ability to Skype with an Xbox One is going to overshadow gaming. Just sayin.