Business: A Simple Sermon
This article is not solely about Apple Products, but more about the pioneering, strategic and forward thinking mind of Steve Jobs.
I’m sure most of us have heard the simple story of Steve Jobs, given up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, fired from his own company, hired back and then, went on to change the world.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, in his own words, they were probably 3 months away from bankruptcy. He hated big company culture, as his manner depicted, he was often cold, rude, unfriendly, but, most importantly he meant business. Steve Jobs defied following the masses and competition. He said being fired was the best thing that ever happened to him. Sure he was brought back down to the bottom both professionally, personally and emotionally. We all go there at least once in our lives. It taught him humility and that no one is untouchable in this world.
Many people don’t know what the “i” in the Apple product line stands for, and it goes to show, even Steve needed help. Originally he had wanted to call his PC line the “MacMan”. Referencing competition at the time, but it was his creative director at the time, Ken Segall that came up with the “i”. Steve wanted something simple, and to him “MacMan” was it. Everyone hated the idea, but you didn’t really tell him what to do. Steve wanted something that allowed customers to understand their products in everyday language. Because not everyone understand gigahertz, megabytes, processor speed and the like. Ken suggested calling the product “iMac”, “i” being short for “Internet”. Steve hated it. But eventually he warmed up to it. Over the years, he saw the simplicity and basics of the “i” for their products and identifying the Apple brand. As with the iPod, it wasn’t marketed as a 1GB; 4GB etc music player and its technical capabilities. All that was said: “1000 songs in your pocket”. So simple, anyone can understand that.
Steve believed in small groups of creative people coming together, creating a campaign, pitching it to the CEO, who either loved it or hated it. But you knew then and there what his decision was. Either to tweak it here and there, or to start again. There was no waiting for approvals and feedback from each and every department, if he liked it; he knew it would be a success to the target audience. That’s how much Steve believed in himself and his brand. He was confident within himself and his staff. His Simple methodology has spun a new revolution.
Big organisations focus on systems and methods to do the job for them. However, people lose sight of the actual businesses goals, and become complex. Steve’s philosophy in all spheres of his business was to rather say one thing loudly, than 1000 things quietly. Simplicity is bold, it doesn’t need to oversell. It creates interest and curiosity in its simplicity. But simple is a lot harder to achieve than complexity. He never believed in focus groups or testing adverts beforehand. As this drowns the creativity, and removes all authenticity. He hired people with creativity, vision and passion.
When Apple’s “Think Different” campaigns were created. It was beyond simple. All you would see, would be a celebrities face (dead or alive), on a billboard/poster with the words “Think Different”. Powerful. Because that famous person, means something different to each and every person that sees it. Which not only gets people talking about your brand, but personally, connects you emotionally. That is Apples philosophy, human connection, in a technology driven world.
Simplicity tells you who you are, what you are selling. People are confident and comfortable with you and your brand because you are. There is no need to oversell, we are connected by buying into the human emotion attached. Steve demanded attention of you and of the world. We all take challenges and risks everyday, and that’s what makes this life exciting and so damn scary at the same time.
Minimize processes to create efficiency. Trust your staff, trust the process and its procedure. The more things you ask people to focus on, the less they will remember about each task and all of them combined. When in doubt minimize. Time extensions on a Project are never a good thing. People will now have more time to build on someone else’s idea and lose focus of their original, most likely great idea. This makes it harder, going against the Simple model we are aiming for. Quality is questionable, more opinions, more confusion and the list goes on.
Brainstorming sessions build an idea from scratch and the end result can restructure an empire. The team feels closer than before, like they are apart of something bigger. Spontaneity is the most underrated motivator. This allows employees on all levels to feel equality, unity, motivated and buying into something they all believe and created together.
Each party having a stake in the others success, this creates true partnership, believing in each other’s creativity. Small groups of smart people, working towards mutual goals, personally and professionally. Working smarter, not harder.
You are your brand. Believe in both.
Complicated is easy. Keep it simple, keep the focus.