Friday, December 26, 2014

The True Genius of Steve Jobs

Today's topic has nothing to do with religion - unless you see the popularity of Apple, Inc. as being somewhat akin to a religion.

Which for some, of course, it is.

One of the biggest disappointments - regarding Apple - of the decade, was the death of Steve Jobs.  Millions of us were dismayed that such a genius could be so stupid as to fail to use his significant fortune to get the best medical care possible, and instead allow quack science to delay that treatment to the point that a very treatable cancer could kill him.  Goes to show that genius has its limitations.

Since then, Apple, Inc. has been watched closely by both detractors and investors with one question in mind. Could Apple repeat its success after the death of its genius founder?  Steve Jobs was seen as the architect of that success - the man whose vision informed and pushed for the creation of some truly world changing devices - devices that have reworked our world into patterns that were comic book sci-fi just decades ago.

Now, lots of words - billions, probably, have been written about this, many of them by people smarter or more educated than I in business and psychology.  I am not under the mistaken impression that I am unique or smarter than any of these folks.  But I have been watching Apple for over twenty years, and I've got some observations about that company that many have not noticed.

So I wonder sometimes.  Most of the articles I have read about Jobs focus on his product genius.  The creation of the products Apple has released and his part in that creation.  How he pushed people to and beyond their limits in making things they never could have imagined they'd produce otherwise.  Products that have been attributed to that genius.

Then, this morning, I read a VERY short article in which the author had been asked one question:  What was the most surprising thing about 2014 to you?

His answer:  Apple has survived, and even thrived, after Jobs' death.

I'm sorry, but my response?


I've never seen such a stupid, uninformed, pitiful excuse for an answer - EVER.

So, you ask me, what WAS Jobs' true genius, genius?

It wasn't in making insanely great products, although he was pretty darn good at it.

His real genius was in building the company he built.  He built a company that has survived his death and in fact, is STILL turing out insanely great products.  Without his guidance, apparently.

I say "apparently", because that guidance is really still there.  His genius was in institutionalizing that vision.  Building teams of people and infusing in those teams the vision of how to make insanely great products.

Thats why they made such great products when he was alive - HE didn't make them, his company did - because he infused his vision and his methods into the teams and the people who made them work.  It is the people - the employees - of Apple, who made the products - who designed them, tested them, redesigned them, retested them until they met the insanely tight and high standards Steve helped them set for themselves and their output.

That company - those teams - are Apple, Inc.  As long as management at Apple continues to follow that vision and maintains the institutionalized vision Steve Jobs gave them, they will continue to make insanely great products.  At least until economic or cultural conditions change that challenge Apple's management to alter that vision in order to keep up.

Then we'll see if that vision stands up.  If Apple's management at the time is flexible enough to see whatever handwriting is on the wall at the time.

But for now, continue looking to Apple, Inc. to continue to make insanely great products - it is what Steve Jobs built that company to do.

Thanks, Steve.

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