Modernize Leadership: Steve Jobs Demonstrates Purpose and Values

wordle4bIn a recent post, I discussed how management practices have become outdated and that there’s a strong need to Modernize Leadership. This change requires eight distinct shifts in how we lead organizations.

I just ran into this great video of a speech that Steve Jobs gave in September 1997. It’s really worth watching. Jobs demonstrates a few of the elements that I discuss in Modernize Leadership, and in particular he does a great job of highlighting this necessary shift:

5) Goals and Objectives to Purpose and Values

The bottom line: Tap into your purpose and values to drive simplicity

What I Learned From Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs passed away today and the world lost a great visionary, designer, architect, and technologist. He truly changed the world… for the better!

I recently wrote a couple of posts about Jobs: Customer Experience Lessons From Steve Jobs and Stop Listening To Customers… Sometimes. To honor his passing, I want to share some additional thoughts about what I’ve learned from him:

  • Passion can be an extremely powerful transformational force
  • Great architecture requires a singular vision to align the 1,000s of little decisions
  • Design isn’t something you can just layer on to a product, it needs to be integrated throughout the process
  • Great design can motivate people to try new things
  • Customers can’t easily articulate their desires, especially for new technology
  • Simple and easy is a wonderful design goal
  • Every device has a primary objective that should never be compromised
  • When it comes to design, every little thing counts

The bottom line: Thank you Steve, you will be missed but not forgotten. R.I.P.

P.S. I loved the way that President Obama described Jobs: “…Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it…”

Stop Listening To Customers… Sometimes

In a recent post, I listed valuable quotes from Steve Jobs. Here’s one of them:

You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.

Jobs seems to be saying that you shouldn’t bother listening to customers. Is that what companies should do?

My take: No. Companies should not stop listening to customers. But they do need to understand what they’re listening for and recognize the limitation to some listening systems.

To start the discussion, here’s a basic loyalty model that I like to use. It’s based on defining a simple hierarchy of customer needs:

  • Expectations: What customers think they’ll get from a company, which is heavily based on their perception of the company.
  • Core needs: What customers want from a company, which is heavily influenced by their perception of what is normal and mainstream in an industry.
  • Desires: What customers really want, which is not based on any company or industry activity and is often difficult for them to articulate.

As companies meet these needs, they build stronger emotional connections with customers. At the highest level, when they meet customers’ desires, companies end up with engaged customers — the raving fans that will promote and defend the brand.

Going back to Jobs’ comment, I agree that you can’t rely on simple customer feedback to identify their desires. Consumers weren’t telling Apple that they wanted a new MP3 player, iTunes, an Apple phone, or even Apple retail stores. Those “breakthrough” experiences came from understanding what customers really desire. In technology, desires can be even more difficult to articulate because people can’t even imagine the possibility of future capabilities.

Most customer listening efforts, which are often part of voice of the customer programs, can uncover expectations and many of customers’ core needs. But they are weak at uncovering desires. To grow the number of engaged customers, companies need to think of less traditional ways of getting customer feedback to uncover desires, like ethnography. It also helps to have a visionary like Steve Jobs who can envision the potential of technology and the evolution of consumer desires.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t have someone like Steve Jobs to rely on.

The bottom line: if you listen to customers, you might not hear their desires

Customer Experience Lessons From Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is stepping down as CEO of Apple. That’s a big loss for Apple. Jobs transformed Apple from a niche computer maker to one of the most influential technology/consumer product companies on earth. Under his leadership, Apple developed iPods, iPads, iTunes, iPhones, Apple Stores, etc. That’s an incredible portfolio. Thank you Steve!

We can learn a lot about customer experience and design from Steve Jobs. Rather than write a bunch of things, I decided to pull together a collection of Jobs’ quotes. There’s a lot to learn from his words:

  • Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
  • Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.
  • You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.
  • That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains
  • 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 often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.
  • And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.

The bottom line: There’s always a market for simplicity, focus, and good design

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