Steve Jobs’ legacy – even before his recent death – is saturated with stories of outstanding leadership and entrepreneurship, not to mention creative genius that actually CREATED a need, rather than simply filling it. His story is one that will inspire many generations to come! Here are a few ways he amazed and motivated me.

  • Steve Jobs sold dreams and found elegant ways to deliver them. He dreamt his products into existence; then, the dreams took the lead. I was fascinated by his ability to accomplish this – repeatedly! Despite Thomas Edison’s creative genius, he rarely foresaw the market possibilities for his invention. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, imagined a market and drove product design and development to create and supply the market.
  • Jobs re-wrote the book on innovation. Innovation is more than a new or different thing. The truly innovative product makes us forget the past. It makes us rethink everything to the point where we almost cannot remember life without the product.Jobs did not simply notch up products already on the market. He didn’t co-opt existing products and develop a next generation. The MAC is not just another laptop, and the iPad makes laptops obsolete. Design, capacity, and iTunes helped the iPod virtually eliminate MP3 players. Smart phones and Palm Pilots were already out there, but the Jobs vision reinvented the genre and, in doing so, dominated the market.
  • Jobs also had an extraordinary sense of timing and continuity. He understood that today’s markets are shorter-lived than before. When IBM or Hewlett Packard ruled, innovation required a difficult redirection of a very big ship. A virtual lifetime was spent in strategizing the logistics on manufacturing and delivery of a new product. Jobs did not let that happen.
  • He found feedback and pushback to be effective and productive tools for innovation. Jobs was an engineer. He liked process, formulae, math; his thinking knew of strong rights and wrongs. He recruited the best and paid them very well, so he had no compunction about raising his voice. The fact is that Steve Jobs invited and encouraged loud exchanges. He was not one to avoid this sort of productive confrontation.

Genius is not something we can bottle or buy. However, design and distribution are systems and processes that we can study, re-develop and re-define. Business elegance relies on the removal of barriers to deliver the dreams that drive us. How can you apply the Jobs legacy to your own business?
by Steven Schlagel