This week’s sad news about Steve Jobs has made me realise what a massive impact his genius has had on my life. His inventions are littered around my desk and home. His legacy will last long into a future he personally has shaped.
Think back on what accomplished. In the three years up to 2005, he assembled and owned all the components he’d need to take advantage of the new broadband market: WebObjects, Safari, iTunes, QuickTime and the MacOS itself. He also threw a vast proportion of the company’s cash at a retail strategy that experts said was extravagant and out of date. When market analysts derided him – as they did, relentlessly, every single quarter – because the company was losing market share, he ignored them. And when broadband took off, so did Apple.
I got to thinking what I could take from Jobs’ legacy and what it means to all of us. As a leader, he taught us to:
Identify external events that will change customer behaviour: Your customers will be affected by what happens from outside influences, like economic forces. Your proactive drive towards creating the future will determine the behaviour your customers and prospects will choose.
Align product development to take advantage of that event before it occurs: Jobs knew that he and his engineers had the thought capacity to develop strategies and products that would create new markets. Thinking through where we want the market to go is a great sign of forward development.
Build distinctive brand positioning: Whether you love or hate Apple, there is no doubting the positioning that Jobs drove the company towards. The brand is the essence and feeling that the product evokes, and Jobs knew what he wanted to accomplish before he even started working on a product. Your product is just one component of your offering. Like Jobs, you can build a brand through constant attention to advancement and complete determination to improve quality.
Deal with pressure: Under pressure many times from even within his own company, Jobs never bowed to the concerns expressed. He knew in his own mind what would work and how to do it. And most times he was proved exactly right. As leaders, we need to build the solidity that deals with the eternal pressure that can make weaker persons buckle.
So, Steve Jobs has been an inspiration to many millions, me included. If we can learn from his legacy, we can look forward to many advancements in business and the consequential results we will harvest.