Steve Jobs (My Apologies)

Here in the US we love swagger. We love capitalism. We love to think that pluck can transform the poorest into the wealthiest within a generation. Never mind that the statistics.

The jury is out on Steve Jobs. Cultish, hero leaders tend to leave behind Greek-tragedy style mash ups. Whatever the departed leader may think, successful tenure followed by a tangle of mediocrity is proof of their poor management. Succession is tricky. It should not be discontinuous. Generally speaking, most of us are neither special nor incompetent. We may shine or bomb in a particular situation but generally we will not do so across the board. It takes a great/poor management to get consistently great/poor results across personal tenures. We will only be able to judge Jobs in hindsight, and by the actions of his successors. Cruel, isn’t it?

And so my aversion to Mr. Jobs. Yes, he founded and ran a company that has produced some great products. It’s too soon to tout him. Regardless, he said some interesting things.

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, May 13–16, 1997

In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.
CNNMoney/Fortune, January 24, 2000

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