Some ‘core’ values from Apple’s Steve Jobs

In the early days (fairly recently, actually, in the late 1970s and 80s), when businesses were computerising their systems and electronic publishing had only got as far as some computerised typesetting, Apple were frowned on by finance departments. Even in the publishing company I worked for, it was a battle to splash out the not inconsiderable sums on Apple Macs to computerise some of our business systems and to use them for what was called back then, desk-top design.

We now know how Steve Jobs and Apple have not only made computing more fun, but radically changed the way technology is used for work and play. Falconbury and Thorogood use them extensively.

In reading the tributes paid to Steve Jobs over the past week, particularly his idiosyncratic way of doing business, I thought I would try and draw out a few ideas/approaches that might help us through these difficult times:

- College: “I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out”; (dropping out of college) “ Looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made”.

It really is time we stopped thinking that university is the best route to developing the nation and its people – we need more vocational emphasis to enable people to achieve their real potential, which would also happen to serve our economic needs far better.

- Focus Groups: “ It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”; and “ it’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want”.

Developers of products and services need to remember (which is particularly difficult these days) that some degree of confidence is needed in innovation.

- Being fired (from Apple, developing Pixar and later making a triumphant return): “It turned out that getting fired was the best thing that could have ever happened to me”.

This is a particularly testing time for any widespread application of this point.

- Facing Adversity: “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith”.

The current economic stresses and strains are certainly testing our faith.

- Wealth: “The goal is not to be the richest man in the cemetery. It’s not my goal”.

Again given the economic challenges facing the world, many of us will match this ambition quite easily.

- Building a business: Philip Delves Broughton (in the FT) said of Steve Jobs that he would say that “building a business was not for the mentally sane, it was for the passionate and maddeningly persistent”;

Mr Broughton also pointed out that he was “relentlessly focused on the present and future”, constantly casting aside the past – the old ties and models being irrelevant.

Yes! Now more than ever for all businesses!!

Neil Thomas

Published on Oct 20, 2011 by Neil Thomas