Book Review-The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation by Jay Elliot with William L. SimonChia-Li Chien, Ph.D., CFP®, PMP®, CPBC
Chia-Li Chien | June 6, 2011
“Pirates! Not the Navy” perhaps sums up how Steve Jobs leads innovation. The legendary Jobs not only created an outstanding company in Apple, but also led it to becoming the top consumer choice for technology including the MacBook, iMac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The definition of pirates inside Apple refers to “unleashing their team’s full creative and artistic talents and to capture the outlaw free-thinking revolutionary spirit.”
This book contains several nuggets that all small-mid size businesses can learn from. Please keep in mind that you don’t have to be Steve Jobs to create a valuable business. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need to be on the cutting edge of product or service development. However, the following traits will help you as an entrepreneur if you want to build a valuable business:
- Leader as Pirate-in-chief: Your product design must focus on “making end-users feel successful and be simple to use.” (P.S., Products here include services)
- Get the Future Number Right: Regularly check your business projections, because as CEO, you must have a clearer picture of the Future Number than your CFO(s).
- Tapping Talents: Recognize talents, and get them on board before you even need them. Talents attract similar talents. Reward them when they demonstrate creativity or become pirates for continuous innovation.
- Go-To-Market: Don’t just follow the traditional distribution. I am always a fan of going against the herd. How Steve Jobs took his products a different route than through the traditional distribution channels was obviously a great success for Apple. Apple basically took control of the entire value chain – from product concept to manufacturing to point of sale. He created, according to the authors, and effective high-tech Disney.
- Maintain Momentum and Be Open to the Next Idea. “A product-driven person is always thinking of the next product for the market and next personal opportunity.” That means you can never be complacent in business if you want to build value.
- Strategic Innovation is Culture. Collaboration, control, and inspiration are key in developing products that end users can use and have a great experience with.
- Being an Evangelist for Your Product. Be the face of your products. “Passion is not an option,” the authors remind us, “and your passion shows in your products!”
The reality of complacency became evident in our Business Value Driver Study conducted in July 2010, in which we found that more than 90% of the participants (entrepreneurs) are simply settling in their current business results. That means they are not looking out for the next big idea, or opportunity. Most importantly, they are not spending the right amount of time in strategic innovation. No matter what type of products or services you provide, innovation will deliver – not just products and/or services – but also end user experience. It is no longer a trend, Apple has set the bar and many of your competitors are following suit.
So, you ask “how can I apply Steve Jobs’ way to my small to mid-sized business?” I suggest you be a copycat first before you internalize your own processes. Remember, the goal is not to become the next Steve Jobs – it is to make your good business valuable!