10 October 2011

The Least Known Strength of Steve Jobs - Standing On Others Shoulders

Most people just think of Steve Jobs as the great visionary, assuming it is all a one man effort. The reality tells us more. His real strength is learning and standing on others' shoulders. It is not easy, and you have to sweat it out. It is easier to criticize others than to see the value in them.
I have spent quite sometime collecting and integrating the sayings of Steve Jobs on success and innovations. Here are some posts:

On deeper reflection, I think his greatest secret of success is the ability to see the potential of the things created by others that even the originators don't see.

The first Apple computer was built by Steve Wozniak who wanted to share it with the Homebrew Computer Club but was persuaded by Steve to start their own company to build and sell it. (Read Wozniak's story)

The Graphical User Interface and the Mouse used in Lisa and Macintosh was due to Steve Job visiting PARC in 1979. Xerox itself did not understand the value of the PARC technology.

He applied the calligraphy that he learned in Reeds College to the boring text centric computer and Desktop Publishing revolutionized the publishing industry and is a stronghold and savior of Mac computers.

iPod created in one year was not built by Apple per se. See iPod History. But we must recognize that the whole thing was put together by Apple.

You got to Sweat it out - Simplicity with Depth.
"Look at the design of a lot of consumer products—they're really complicated surfaces.  

We tried make something much more holistic and simple.

When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.

Most people just don't put in the time or energy to get there.

We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through." Steve Jobs.

It is even better than what Steve thought.
Sometime, even Steve Jobs underestimate his own vision. On iTunes, "It will go down in history as a turning point for the music industry. This is landmark stuff. I can't overestimate it! On the iTunes Music Store. Fortune". It is much more than music but videos, iPhone/iPad apps, and anything digital.

What are the lessons for innovators ?
  1. Lone genius is not that alone after all. Real true successful Genius rides on others and stand on their shoulders.

  2. Try to see the value of any seemingly crazy ideas.
    "If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." ~Albert Einstein
    Every idea has its value. You just need to the situation, the job or the person that may need it.
  3. Sweat it out - rethink and redo - till simplicity, elegance, intuitive, ease of use appear. 
See 10 Design Rules for the Dummies

Lim Liat copyrighted 10 Oct 2011

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