We all know that Jobs changed the world with his many creations at Apple and Pixar Films. Isaacson wrote, “Steve Jobs became the greatest business executive of our era. The one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford. Was he smart, no, not exceptionally; instead, he was a genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times, magical.”
I‘ve always been interested in why some businessmen and women are successful and some are not. There are several sound business principles that Jobs executed that all business people should study. Isaacson wrote, “Some leaders push innovations by being good at the big picture; others do so by mastering the details. Jobs did both relentlessly.” And relentlessly is the key word.
When my father would hire someone, he would always look for a person who had a lot of drive. Jobs was relentless in pursuit of excellence. He never, never gave up until he met his objective. And, even then, he was never satisfied. My father was also a perfectionist and worked hard for perfection in everything he did. We always say in our company that ”success is never final.” This is a phrase my father came up with.
Jobs was a good judge of people and surrounded himself with “A” players. He had a fantastic team and held them accountable. I found his leadership style with his team extremely demanding which is ok. But he was often mean, overly critical and quite unfair many times. This is not ok.
Jobs realized the great importance of focus and when he returned to lead Apple in 1997, he fixed that company by cutting all except a few core products. His basic focus caused his Apple team to work intensely to perfect and create just a few truly great products.
Along with his intense focus, there was a dedication to simplicity – not only in the end product but also with the team at the home office. Jobs’ products were his motivation. And his motivation was not profits.
My father and I had frequent heated discussions about quality versus profits. In my early days, I accused my Dad of being very unreasonable in his intense focus on great food and service but also wanting increased profitability. I learned you can do both and that is, in my opinion, management’s ultimate challenge.
Dad believed, as Jobs did, that if the product is perfect, the profits would be there. And for Apple, they certainly were. Isaacson wrote that, “In May 2010, Apple surpassed Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company and by September 2010, it was worth 70% more than Microsoft.”
Steve Jobs – what a guy!
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.