This past week Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO due to his weak health. I wish Steve Jobs and his family the best during this tough time.
I’ve learned a lot from watching and observing Steve Jobs over the years. I’ve been an avid fan - watching his every keynote speech for the past several years. It’s amazing that the iPhone has totally redefined the phone industry. And now the iPad is revolutionizing, or rather creating a new industry. Apple products under Steve Jobs have been clean, elegant, simple and just a delight to use. Nothing compares to my iPhone, iPad, iMac or my late Macbook Air.
But of all the lessons I’ve learned from Steve Jobs, the one that sticks out right now is his intense focus on innovating the next great disruption. That’s what Steve Jobs did at Apple - he innovated and he led his company to innovate some of the best products of our time.
But innovation is not something that’s easy, and just wanting to innovate doesn’t make you good at it. Steve assembled a first rate team, and gave them power to make decisions and innovate together with him.
Tom Reestman (http://thesmallwave.com/ideas-not-hierarchy-on-steve-jobs-supposedly) wrote about a quote from Steve Jobs’ interview with Walt Mossberg (http://allthingsd.com/20100607/steve-jobs-at-d8-the-full-uncut-interview/):
“What I do all day is meet with teams of people and work on ideas and solve problems to make new products, to make new marketing programs, whatever it is.” - Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs has said he loves to make great products, but I think this quote reveals something deeper. Steve Jobs at Apple didn’t lead a products company, but rather a problem solving company. They took big problems and tried to find the best solutions.
Computer, keyboard and mouse on big desktop - problem. To Steve Jobs, a big problem. Why does it have to be big? Why a keyboard? Why can’t I carry it around all day? Why can’t I do everything by touch? Thus, the beginnings of iOS that probably was started in the early 2000s.
Phones prior-2007 - they all suck and are a paint to use. Steve Jobs rallies his teams to come up with the best solution possible. The iPhone is born.
iTunes/iPod - same thing. Why can’t I have all my music with me in slim device with a super elegant interface?
iOS 5 is coming out soon with iCloud - I think it’s going to be a hit. It’s because they really tried to find the best solution to the problem of storage and sync.
Why was Steve Jobs so passionate about working at Apple? Because he loves to solve tough problems, and he loves to rally the troops to do so as well.
What was Steve Jobs’ greatest contributions to Apple?
1. He pointed the company to solve big problems.
2. He rallied the troops to find the best solutions.
3. He structured the whole company around #1 and #2.
I’m going to miss Steve, his keynotes, and the great products that came out of his leadership. I hope Apple continues his legacy in innovation and problem solving.
In the meantime, I’ll look for the best problems I can rally my company to solve, and keep focused on it.