The 7 Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs10 June, 2015 / Articles
“The cure for Apple AAPL -0.67% is not cost-cutting; the cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” Steve Jobs made that bold statement when he returned to Apple after a 12-year absence. Apple was close to bankruptcy. We all know what happened next. Steve Jobs launched one innovation after another after another, revolutionizing computers, entertainment, music, retail, mobile, and telecommunications. It’s no wonder that CNBC named Steve Jobs the #1 most innovative and transformative business leader of the past 25 years.
As The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman once wrote, “The day of average is over. Average only guarantees below average results.” Steve Jobs never thought average thoughts, even as he and partner Steve Wozniak were fiddling with electronics in the spare bedroom left vacant when Steve Jobs’ sister moved out of her room. It was only after the two visionaries outgrew the bedroom that they moved to the kitchen, and eventually the more spacious garage.
The seven principles that Jobs used to achieve his breakthrough success are available to any business leader in any field who hopes to create radical transformation.
Do what you love. Passion is everything. Innovation doesn’t happen without it. Dig deep to identify your true passion. Steve Jobs was not passionate about computers; he was passionate about building tools to help people unleash their potential. One of the most profound remarks Jobs ever made occurred at the end of one of his last major public presentations. Jobs said, “It’s the intersection of technology and liberal arts that makes our hearts sing.”
Ask yourself, “What makes your heart sing?” Follow the answer.
Put a dent in the universe. Passion fuels the rocket; vision directs the rocket to its ultimate destination. In the mid-1970s personal computers were largely limited to hobbyists who assembled parts from kits. Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak had a vision to “put a computer in the hands of everyday people.” A bold, specific vision inspires evangelists and sets forces in motion. Jobs once said the role of a leader is to hire the best people and to keep them aligned toward achieving the vision.
Keep your team focused on the big picture.
Creativity is connecting things. Steve Jobs believed that a broad set of experiences lead people to conclusions that others might have missed. He was on to something. Harvard researchers spent half a decade studying the world’s greatest innovators. They found that innovators “associate” ideas from different fields and apply them to the product or service they’re working on. Those researchers could have saved themselves a lot of time by simply interviewing Steve Jobs, who used experiences to inspire his best ideas. Jobs didn’t always know where the dots would connect, but connect they did. Jobs took calligraphy in college; a course with no practical application to his life. It all came back later with Macintosh, the first computer with beautiful typeface, fonts, and calligraphy.
Bombard your mind with new experiences completely outside of your chosen field.
Say no to 1,000 things. “Innovation comes from saying no to 1,000 things,” said Jobs. When Jobs returned to Apple he dramatically reduced the number of products the company made so each product had an A-team. When Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007 he pointed out that while other smartphone makers were adding features and buttons, the iPhone would remove them, making it simpler, cleaner, and user-friendly. Visit the Apple Website. When the company introduces a new product it doesn’t add the product image and content to a cluttered homepage. It removes clutter, focusing on the product it wants to highlight.
Start saying “no” more often.
Create “insanely great” experiences. Steve Jobs innovated around the customer experience by benchmarking against the very best models in customer service. When I did my research for a book on the Apple Retail model I learned that the Apple Store was inspired by The Ritz-Carlton. Jobs didn’t choose to look at his competitors; he had a bigger vision for what a consumer experience might look like in a retail store selling computers.
Create exceptional experiences for every customer, every time.
Master the message. Steve Jobs was a master storyteller, but he worked at it. His presentation skills were refined over many years and hours and hours of practice. You can have great ideas, but if you cannot convince others to take action on those ideas they won’t turn into truly innovative new products and services.
Refine your product story.
Sell dreams, not products. Ultimately Steve Jobs was successful because he sold dreams, not products. When Jobs opened the first Apple Store in 2001 he said the store was not meant to ‘sell computers.’ Instead it would ‘enrich lives.’ Nobody cares about your product. They care about themselves. Create products that help people achieve their dreams and you’ll win them over.