Lessons from Steve Jobs

I’ve just finished reading the authorised biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I bought the book while travelling to the States in June of this year where everyone seemed to be reading it and finally made the time while on holidays to finish this “warts and all” account of his life.

I’m feeling lots of things as I reflect upon the book: saddened at his passing, amazed at his accomplishments, unnerved by his reported manner with people but most of all inspired by his mantra of simplicity and focus.

“We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.”


Jobs also believed in “end to end control” (P137) to control the user’s experience and was so meticulous in all things about the product – it had to be perfect – no compromises – right down to the packaging. I’m wondering now if I pay enough attention to the details around packaging our product at school. It’s easy to be caught up (as I should be) in the educative process at school but do I package the results of our work well enough? Just to clarify packaging the results of the work can be in celebrations (his product launches were unbelievable), in presentations or in publishing. Just to be clear our product is the people we support – our young people, our teachers and staff and our parents.

He also pushed, cajoled, yelled, terrorized, lied to, sweet talked and supported people to achieve the perfect product (iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMovie, iCloud, iStore etc..). His distorted force field was based on a binary view of people where he just said what he felt – fantastic or shit. He said something about the feeling of wanting to be liked prevented most people from being completely honest. I’m not committing to his binary force field notion but I too have felt constrained as a leader in giving feedback perhaps for wanting more to be liked. That’s something I’m working on .. providing more descriptive feedback.

I’m writing this on a iMac having had an iPhone 4 for several years (and yes I’m getting the iPhone 5 next week) and more recently I got a iPad. Why? I think I bought the simplicity of all these tools inter connecting. This was really demonstrated with an app (Find iPhone) which recognises where each of my tools are – provides a map of their location – and gives me through iStore and ability to lock and erase the contents if lost. If that’s not inter-connectivity what is. Yes I also have an iCloud account and recently bought Apple TV for the staffroom television to improve its functionality.

Who would have thought I was a Windows man just 12 months ago. He certainly changed the world.

I’ve pasted a review of the book for those interested in hearing more about it.

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