I was talking to programmer extrordinare, Jordan Thomas, yesterday about a project he was working on. He used the term "edge case" in reference to putting a lot of effort into modifying a feature that would clearly be used by one person about every 6 weeks. This is a common term used by developers.
He asked, "Why risk breaking the e-store by introducing new variables when the benefit was so modest?"
I think this is a great metaphor for all business decision makers particularly those in marketing. I'm always looking for new ways to talk about focus, because I believe focus is the single most important deciding factor between greatness and mediocrity. I think this is a good one. I've watched agencies, companies and individuals with incredible potential fritter it away while moving a hundred miles an hour. The problem? They were moving a hundred miles an hour in a circle. They would get heated about a minor project, disrupting others in their work, all while never asking, "Is this an edge case?" No matter how cool an idea is, or how much you want to do it, if it will not make a major impact, just don't do it.
One other thing. Often we are too close to our own ideas to make the determination as to whether we're working on an edge case. We have to set aside our pride and listen to those around us. Admittedly, there are those who don't fully get long term strategy, but there are those who work for you or with you who do "get it." Listen to them.