Steve Jobs was both an autocratic bully and a business genius but he executed the most successful corporate turnaround so far this century. Steve Jobs teaches us that it’s important to take total responsibility for our products from end to end, and to put products above return on investment. He also taught us not to be a slave to focus groups and that insight alone is priceless.
As Jobs told Isaacson, “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything. The people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.”
Focusing on product meant taking the long view–another key Jobs leadership lesson. After the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, most of Silicon Valley stopped spending. Apple, meanwhile, started ramping up research and development, hoping to invent a lot of innovative new products that would put it ahead of competitors after the downturn.
The truth is that investing during a downturn is almost always good business. Samsung trumped Sony in the 1990s by investing more in R&D; China’s solar industry has leaped ahead of competitors by piling on investment since the financial crisis. In the U.S., there is still $2 trillion worth of cash sitting on corporate balance sheets. And there are too few CEOs willing to make the same kind of bold investment choices Jobs did.
Still with all this we live in a business environment where we have to consistently sell our ideas to others and somewhere along the way the consistent ROI question is going to pop up.
I believe that if we make great products the profits will follow but I also understand that there are lot of great products that never make it because marketers were too busy focusing on ROI rather than enhancing the consumer brand experience.
- The Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs (business.time.com)
- Fantastic collection of Steve Jobs videos (tuaw.com)
- Watch Steve Jobs’ Life In a Facebook Timeline [Steve Jobs] (gizmodo.com)
- An Idea is not enough for Success… Five more lessons from Steve Jobs (blogbysuchitra.wordpress.com)
- What Would Steve Jobs Do? (time.com)
- The Ultimate Steve Jobs Quiz (techaholicblog.wordpress.com)
- Steve Jobs: One Last Thing (rashid86.wordpress.com)