The Chemistry of Strategy tm Newsletter November 01, 2011

Steve Jobs and the power of vision

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We make sure our clients understand why strategic planning is an essential step in turning their vision into reality, and we emphasize the importance of the team having a clear, shared vision. Many comments about Steve Jobs, who died on October 5, remarked on the Apple Computer co-founder’s extraordinary ability to create and then realize a vision. Such comments reminded me of the time I spent a morning with Steve Jobs.

It was back in the late nineteen seventies, when my group was creating a major software system for Apple’s next-generation computer. I was in Cupertino with my project manager for an early morning meeting to finalize the contract with Steve Jobs. When we were ushered into his office late in the morning, Jobs gave us 100 percent of his attention.

He was mesmerizing and every bit as much a sales showman as infomercial pitchmen like Ron Popeil or Billy Mays. He shared his vision for the personal computer and described his technical philosophy. He was especially excited about integrating audio technology so that people could even use his new machine as a telephone.

Waving a light pen (a personal input device that pre-dated the computer mouse), Jobs rhapsodized about how, at a cost of less than two dollars each, he could include one with every machine. “If you make a component an option, then application developers won’t incorporate it.” He didn’t believe in having optional functionality.

Jobs’ grand vision of “an Apple computer on every desk” meant that he saw the personal computer ultimately becoming as ubiquitous as the telephone. And he emphasized that telephones don’t have slots, don’t have options, and are extraordinarily easy to use. If he could have his way, his computers would have every feature standard and be easy to use.

Before I left Jobs’ office, I asked what he would do if our software was the main reason people ended up buying his new computer. His answer? “I’ll buy your company.” I laughed, since we were twice as big as Apple. By the next year, Apple was bigger than we were, and within a couple of years had grown an order of magnitude larger. Apple clearly had a vision of where it was going and the leadership and implementation to get there.

Steve Jobs remained true to his vision over the years, although for many years his vision was too far ahead of the available technology. Products he had direct control over were crippled by their lack of expandability. By the 21st century, however, the technology had finally caught up with his vision. With the iPhone, introduced in 2007, the world can enjoy the full flowering of a vision that had taken shape nearly thirty years earlier. An Apple computer not on every desk, but in every pocket.

Apple Computer found success as it turned a vision into reality through effective implementation of strategy. Ad Astra per Aspera - to the stars with difficulty.

Make your key players 5 times more effective

20% of your key employees' actions create 80% of their value to your organization. Delegate the 80% of low-value tasks and your key employees will have five times the impact.

Recruiting five candidates with the proven performance of one senior employee is a daunting, time-consuming, and expensive task. Re-engineering senior jobs to enable the recruiting and development of junior employees is less expensive and more scalable.  

We have found that personal and professional growth is an expectation of most employees. Proactive delegation provides superior opportunities for growth.

John W. Myrna

is co-founder of
Myrna Associates Inc

My next Webinars

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November 2, 2011
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John Recommends

Great by Choice
by Jim Collins

Why do some companies outperform their peers by a factor of ten?

After 9 years of research, Jim and his team have identified three behaviors that produce 10x success:

   more discipline
   more empirical
   more paranoia.

The book is filled with myth-busting, rigorous analysis and relevant examples.

Speaking Gigs

John loves to share his insights. Email him if you'd like to have him speak at your next meeting.

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