There’s a lot to be learnt from Steve Jobs, the man behind two of the most defining moments in consumer computer technology: the birth of Apple’s iconic Macintosh and the iPhone. And it’s not just that he is great at inspiring teams to build awesome products, he is also a master communicator: it’s amazing how the entire tech media lapped up his presentations and gave more mileage to the iPhone and iPad than any advertising campaign could have. Add to it the way he took Pixar to new heights, and there can be no denying the fact that he was doing a lot of things right.
There are no secret success mantras or shortcuts to success, and we can’t turn into Steve Jobs overnight by reading an article or imitating him. But, whether you are managing a software project, or trying to conceptualize and build an innovative product, there’s much to learn from the master. So, without further ado, here are five potent thoughts from the master to inspire and guide CEOs, tech managers, product mavericks and dreamers!
1. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Steve Jobs did not want to build a device for the present – he wanted to build a device for the future. Many product pioneers end up limiting their vision and getting defined by what the competitors are offering. Whether it is a tech startup or a tech giant, the only way to survive and thrive in today’s incredibly fast-moving technology landscape is to innovate.
2. "Make sure you're hiring only A-players."
What you believe and imagine strongly can often become real. Throughout his career, Steve Jobs has surrounded himself with the most intelligent, innovative, and adventurous professionals and he drove them hard. His dramas and tantrums and intolerance for any idea that was less than smart is well known.
But he did more than get a bunch of smart people and drive them to do their best. He also treated them as if they were the best in the company, and made them believe that they were a class apart from others. So, build an ‘A’ Team, and back it to the hilt!
3. "Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That's true for companies, and it's true for products."
Steve Jobs famously asked Larry page to list down five key products to focus on, and warned that Google would turn into ‘another Microsoft’ if it didn’t focus. When it comes the Apple, the company focuses of a small stable of high-caliber devices and doesn’t expand its range of offerings. This helps the company cut costs of productions & development. At the same time, under Steve Jobs, Apple didn’t ship any products till they were perfect.
For product development companies, focusing on a set suite of products and providing the best quality may be a better idea than dipping a finger in lots of different pies.
4. “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
Under the guiding influence of Steve Jobs, Apple has built a range of innovative, complex and high-performance devices that almost anyone can pick up and start using. By pushing a team of top designers and developers to strip down experience to the very essence, he helped create products that a generation of users have fallen in love with.
Going the extra mile to keep things simple for the user is essential for any software product or application you create. Sure, it is tough, but it is also mandatory. In his words, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works.”
5. “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”
In other words, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” Enjoy your success, but don’t rest on your laurels. Be it Apple or Pixar, the companies went from success to success under the leadership of Steve Jobs. There was a creative force and ambition inside him, compelling him to improve the existing products and to give birth to something new and awesome.
Once you build a software application or product that does well, don’t let gratification rob you of your passion. Continue to improve your product. And, start thinking about your next big idea!
What are your favorite words from Steve Jobs, and why do you like them? Share with us in the comments!