Monday, May 09, 2011

Steve Jobs Unique Management Style

There is no one correct way to run a company. Steve Jobs is a very special person. There are a lot of things we all could learn from him. Saw this in a summary of the things he did which was unusual in running the company that now has the largest market cap after Exxon. My comments in colour:

1) Partner with the enemy

Partner with the enemy

Can you imagine Pepsi and Coca-Cola getting together? Or Verizon and AT&T? That's how strange it was when Apple and Microsoft announced their partnership at the 1997 Macworld Expo. After 12 years of financial loss, Jobs needed to get Apple money, and quickly. So he turned to Bill Gates, who made a $150 million investment in Apple.

"The era of competition between Apple and Microsoft is over as far as I'm concerned," Jobs said. "This is about getting Apple healthy, this is about Apple being able to make incredibly great contributions to the industry and to prosper again.”

That is thinking out of the box. Would CEOs ever consider working with the competition? What else has guide us not to ever "potential solutions" outside of our comfort zone?

2) Put sex in products

Put sex in products

A great salesman, Jobs knew the importance of aesthetics; he realized Apple's products looked dated. In 1998, Jobs called a meeting at Apple, sat everyone down and said, "You know what's wrong with this company? The products SUCK -- there's no sex in them."

Today, Apple is credited for creating the most beautiful technology, from colorful iMacs to sleek iPads.

I don't think its sex but sexy. Macs beautiful design lines, same with the Iphones, they are sexy.

3) Change the original vision and business plan

Change the original vision and business plan

Apple began as a computer-only company, but Jobs knew it needed to broaden its approach if it wanted to become truly successful. Apple began expanding its products beyond just computers with the release of Final Cut Pro, followed by MP3 players, music, iPhones and iPads.

Jobs changed the company's name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple Inc. in 2007 to symbolize the new, broader vision.

A name change should be a reflection on changed direction and strategy. When would you consider to change your own name? If its just to create a different persona, it won't work (much like most companies in KLSE which changes their names like nobody's business), but if its a reflection of your whole character, motivations and well being, then its different.

4) Create solutions to impossible roadblocks

Create solutions to impossible roadblocks

Other retailers were not giving Apple products adequate positioning. Jobs' solution? The Apple Store. Scattered throughout the world, these successful outlets are now the "darlings of the retail computer industry".

Well, not every company can do that if they do not yet have a range of desirable products. Sometimes, we can still change the way we distribute our products, our channels, are we bound by old trusted relationships which may not be so effective now.

5) Tell customers what they want instead of asking for feedback

Tell customers what they want instead of asking for feedback

Jobs does not use focus groups. Instead, he tells customers what they want before they know they want it. "[Apple has] a great track record for making you want -- and buy -- things you thought you didn't need," says Carl Howe, director of consumer research for Yankee Group. Last year when the iPad was announced, people gawked. Nearly 20 million sales later, it's not so funny.

This is so important. This was my pet peeve against my previous company which uses focus groups and customer surveys before every new product launch. Why? Its because that was taught as bible in MBAs throughout the world. Yes, its important to do surveys and focus groups, but how often do you find that as being very successful. When you try to empower the users, you usually end up with the lowest common denominator. To me, that is akin to relinquishing the responsibility of the way you run a company to the users - how to blame management if your product or services do not sell if you use focus groups? A very useful way to absolve from taking responsibility and accountability. The most successful products and services we ever come across is often laced with, "Gee, I did not know I needed that, this is so great".

6) Connect dots

Connect dots

Apple releases products that are innovative in and of themselves, but they are also integrated visions. iPods mesh beautifully with iTunes; iPads and iPhones collaborate with the app store. According to Jobs, "creativity is just connecting things." Apple frequently shows how the sum is greater than all of the parts.

7) Don't hire cookie cutter employees

Don't hire cookie cutter employees

Ivy league graduates aren't the only people who can run companies. "Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, and poets, and artists, and zoologists, and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world," Jobs said.

I think this is relevant for many companies. Do we usually hire senior people that fits a certain persona? When you are choosing important people, its more important that they have the x-factor to move things and make things happen, that they can think differently and energise the company, constantly thinking of how to move the company to the next level. Much of all that cannot be taught at MBA courses.

8) Encourage others to think differently

Encourage others to think differently

Apples' "Think Different" ad campaign in the late 1990's was one of the most effective of all time. It stimulated innovation and reinvention, which is what Apple, today, is all about.

9) Don't elaborate

Don't elaborate

Simplicity is bliss. Apple's designer Johnathan Ives confirms this strategy: "We are absolutely consumed by trying to develop a solution that is very simple, because as physical beings we understand clarity."

10) Sell dreams, not products

Sell dreams, not products

Jobs gets people hooked on a feeling. It's not the products his customers buy, it's what the products represent. Remember, people first and foremost care about themselves, so make products they can relate to.

But my product is so basic, where to link it to dreams? Well, CPO could be linked to proper cultivation and production techniques that are sustainable and is green (if properly strategised and executed) - a cleaner future. Granted, not all companies can do that, but even the most noxious like Shell and BP have marketing strategies that put a "nice feel" to their services/people - yes, propaganda and lies also have their place. Google's high falutin "Do no evil" is actually a commendable dream in more ways than we care to appreciate (that mantra is completely opposite to what Microsoft stands for, lol). We cannot help if some are not so genuine, but when they are, they are home runs.

11) Trust your gut

Trust your gut

Steve Jobs said in his Stanford commencement speech: "Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."


walla said...

Thanks for this, Dali. Quality blog here.

ChampDog said...

Thanks for the very interesting sharing. :)

Dexter Morgan said...

Is there any good and accurate autobiography about this great great man out there?

mgtp12 said...

hi there, i ve been following your blog for some time now.

They are very original and new in the sense that one can tell this kind of material is definitely not from textbook, but rather from experience. Keep them coming :)

I also blog - do drop by I am certain we can learn more from one another.


The Leakers - Helmed by the often brilliant Herman Yau Nai Hoi (whom I believe was from Malaysia who became a great success in HK films). 7...