Innovation and Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

by Tom Baer

Within days of Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple, the hard drive on my MacBook crashed, and being a back-up procrastinator, I lost a great deal of data.  If you’ve had this happen, you know it is VERY aggravating.  The kind of aggravation that should make me switch brands.  But I didn’t.

Why?  Because of Steve Jobs.  He built a brand that is so compelling and appealing that I am willing to live with some inconvenience and aggravation to remain in his world.  It turns out I am not alone.  After posting about my computer’s demise on facebook, I got plenty of replies from friends that had the same thing happen, and like me, remained loyal to Apple.

I mention this here because on the occasion of Mr. Jobs departure, rather than letting him just fade into the sunset, I think we should all learn from him.  Many people know him as the creative mind behind Apple and Pixar, two tremendously successful companies.  But he’s more than that.  After he left Apple the first time, the company floundered and almost went under.  When he bought Pixar from George Lucas, it was hardly a blip on the entertainment radar screen.

Steve Jobs saved these two companies and built them into culture-changing phenomenon.  How?  By believing in a simple philosophy: “the way out is not to slash and burn, it is to innovate.”

In today’s economy, “slash and burners” are everywhere.  Corporations are still laying off staff left and right.  Companies and associations are cutting offerings, and even worse charging for services that net them a little profit but at a huge cost in customer dissatisfaction.  If Mr. Jobs had taken the “slash and burn” route with his companies, the world may have never known  the iPod or iPhone, and never seen Toy Story or Finding Nemo.

We’re all faced with challenges in our jobs.  Think about how you handle those challenges.  Next time try the innovation route to the solution.  Yes, it may be more difficult to sell in, but you’ll put a smile on Steve Jobs face as he sits in his rocking chair.

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