In business today we’re all trying to keep up with technology and grasp its implications. We’re all constantly learning. Through these years of seemingly light-speed changes, the one company to consistently watch has been Apple. Now with the passing of Steve Jobs, it’s very possible that an era of imagination and creativity in the world of consumer technology has ended. From David Pogue:
Suppose, by some miracle, that some kid in a garage somewhere at this moment possesses the marketing, invention, business and design skills of a Steve Jobs. What are the odds that that same person will be comfortable enough — or maybe uncomfortable enough — to swim upstream, against the currents of social, economic and technological norms, all in pursuit of an unshakable vision?
Zero. The odds are zero.
Mr. Jobs is gone. Everyone who knew him feels that sorrow. But the ripples of that loss will widen in the days, weeks and years to come: to the people in the industries he changed. To his hundreds of millions of customers. And to the billions of people touched more indirectly by the greater changes that Steve Jobs brought about, even if they’re unaware of it.
Jobs was the lynchpin in the transition to digital for many industries, most notably entertainment. His devices weren’t just “cool;” they brought with them whole new businesses and new ways of creating wealth. Part of his special magic was his ability to convince corporations, solidly entrenched in the physical realm, to become digital. Now that that force is gone, who is there to exert the same kind of influence? His unique combination of leadership, passion and persuasion are what changed industries. Who can duplicate that?
There’s a sense that without Jobs, not just Apple, but whole industries – maybe the entire culture – is without a guide, at least in the digital realm. After all, Apple is the one company that’s always been copied, and that affects lots of things in society. Jobs took good ideas, made them better, sold them to consumers, then compelled industries to change. That’s how he fulfilled his dream of “changing the world.” Like him or not, the world is different because of him — maybe not ideologically, but in very tangible ways.
I’m looking forward to reading his official biography. Maybe there will be something in it that will cause us all the “think different,” look beyond today, and bring a new level of imagination and creativity to the things we do. That would be great. Maybe it will even spawn another Jobs-like leader. But there will never be another Steve Jobs.
Read full Pogue article: http://nyti.ms/qya2aX
We often think of people in the news in terms of their abilities, accomplishments and whatever it is that makes them noteworthy. Here’s a different look at someone who’s had his share of headlines and successes in the last several years: ”My Neighbor, Steve Jobs“
photo © 2007 eyeSPIVE | more info (via: Wylio)
My wife and I recently visited Disney World with her son’s family. For myself and our two grandsons, it was our first-ever trip to the world-renowned resort. The boys were wide-eyed and excited as they took in the rides and attractions (although the many lines tried their patience a bit). For me, however, it provided a case study in customer experience, which led to some interesting thoughts.
Everyone is familiar with “Disney perfection.” The pleasant on-site accommodations are linked flawlessly with the various parks and locales by a reliable and comfortable transportation system. The parks are clean, the staff friendly, and there are ample restrooms, food services and tasteful souvenir shops about the beautifully laid-out grounds. In an era where “customer experience” is often crowed about, Disney holds the high ground.
One detail of the parks that stood out for me is how they tactfully block off areas that are under construction. Painted fences surround the building sites. Alongside are benches where visitors can take a break. And on the fences at regular intervals are little plaques, with quotes from Walt himself, that provide a bit of the Disney philosophy with regard to building. It’s as if he’s reminding everyone to not feel too inconvenienced — pursuing new dreams and ideas is what the parks are all about.
A particular Disney quote, however, stuck with me. Supposedly, said Walt, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.” I recalled the cartoon, “Steamboat Willie,” with Mickie bouncing up and down at the wheel, and how that character became a hit that started the Disney studios on its way to riches and fame.
Of course, it wasn’t just Mickey that made Disney successful, nor was the long-lasting fame automatic. Rather, the success of Mickey Mouse opened a door that allowed Walt Disney’s full vision and capabilities to be expressed, including his desire to push the technology and business of animation, and an innate understanding of what his customers wanted. And this got me to thinking about Steve Jobs.
Both Steve and Walt mastered customer experience. Both pushed technology in order to deliver products that customers love. Both exist in an ethereal world of dreams (Disney: “When you wish upon a star..”; Jobs: “Think Different”). Both maintained precise control of their products, companies and brands. Both brought ground-breaking innovation to their fields (Walt implemented cell animation very early on, perfected “multi-plane” camera techniques — an early 3D-like experience, and delivered the first animated feature film, “Snow White,” despite the trepidations of everyone around him. Jobs, on the other hand, conceived and delivered the Mac, his iDevices, and numerous innovations in the marketing of his tech gadgets, effectively marrying them to our daily lives).
But perhaps most interesting is how Disney came to technology through entertainment while Jobs came to entertainment through technology. Walt, the entertainer, envisioned Epcot, the technology-ruled “City of Tomorrow,” while Steve, the “tech guy,” became CEO of Pixar Studios, the hugely successful 3D animation studio, and also brought the music industry into the 21st century through the iTunes store. It’s as if they shared a gene somewhere that enabled them to bring us treasures from the future. Whatever it was, they were set on paths destined to converge. Pixar inevitably was bought by Disney, and Steve ended up on Disney’s board as its largest share holder.
And so I propose that Jobs has become, in a sense, the heir of Disney’s legacy. Sensitivity to customers’ innate desires, and the ability to create things that connect with and satisfy them is what links the two visionaries. People unequivocally love their products and are delighted to use them. Indeed, customers stand on lengthy lines to ride “Pirates of the Caribbean,” or to get a new iPad. Their success isn’t the result of a cold, calculating computer analysis, but an expression of gifting and vision that is theirs alone. It’s business as art, technology as instrument, innovation as life-blood, and unquestioned success the result.
Today, Disney’s work lives on, driven by the philosophy of innovation and customer experience that’s fully embedded in the company he founded. Will we say the same thing about Apple when Steve Jobs is one day gone? Our culture needs companies that “get things right,” and can deliver extraordinary products and services in extraordinary ways. Perhaps a “sorcerer’s apprentice” is in the wings somewhere, waiting to take up this mantle. The job description includes an unfettered imagination, an iron will and a love for delighting the masses. “Thinking different” will help, too. Applicants, however, need not apply. We’ll know you when we see you.