I am not an Apple employee, but I’ve often wondered about the company’s DNA. With some downtime over the holidays I was able to read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. The narrative helped me peer into Apple’s core values. And as I step back, I find myself less frustrated by the chaos of the App Store, and more grounded about which apps matter and which don’t.
This article reviews key points in the book that can also apply to app development. I’ll proceed by laying out the book’s themes next to a parallel track about apps. I hope those of you who have read it can expand, debate, and discuss in comments.
Pg. 123 – “He could not make trade-offs well. If someone didn’t care to make their product perfect, they were a bozo.” Pg. 565 – “And he created a corporation crammed with A players.” Pg. 407 – “If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much.”
App Translation: Don’t be a bozo. Use the best talent to produce high quality products that you love.
Pg. 460 – “At (the farm), his job had been to prune the apple trees so that they would stay strong, and that became a metaphor for his pruning at Apple. Instead of encouraging each group to let product lines proliferate based on marketing considerations, or permitting a thousand ideas to bloom, Jobs insisted that Apple focus on just two or three priorities at a time.” Page 336 – “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”
App Translation: Where does app development fit in your list of priorities?
Pg. 445 – “We make progress by eliminating things, by removing the superfluous.” Page 564 – “He made devices simpler by eliminating buttons, software simpler by eliminating features, and interfaces simpler by eliminating options.” Page 389 – “If he couldn’t figure out how to navigate something, or if it took more than three clicks, he would be brutal.”
App Translation: Does your app require instructions?
On Art and Technology
Pg. 397 – “When I went to Pixar, I became aware of the great divide. Tech companies don’t understand creativity. They don’t appreciate intuitive thinking…and they think that creative people just sit around on couches all day and are undisciplined…I’m one of the few people who understands how producing technology requires intuition and creativity, and how producing something artistic takes real discipline.” Page 517 – “At the end he added a zinger: ‘By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others’ work and belittle their motivations?’ ”
App Translation: How does your app use technology to create something greater than the app itself?
Steve Jobs directed the artful engineering of consumer technology products. This talent of blending science and creativity has left us with a powerful toolset for progress in the modern world. How did he do it? The book tells us he was genius – genius at sensing what lies ahead.
I have a different opinion. I don’t think it was genius, as much as it was conviction. He had a conviction about certain ideas that was so strong, that he fought for it, and insisted upon it, constantly.
Are you convinced you have an app that the world should be downloading? Do you have confidence in that conviction?
Enough confidence, to make it happen?
Lorraine Akemann | Editor | Moms With Apps