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Sun 25 Sep 2016 04:36 PM

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Nine best innovation secrets of Steve Jobs

He built one of the world's most lucrative companies out his garage and introduced the world to technology it never even knew it needed. Five years after his death, the iconic Steve Jobs still has a lot to offer the world of business

Nine best innovation secrets of Steve Jobs

He built one of the world's most lucrative companies out his garage and introduced the world to technology it never even knew it needed. Five years after his death, the iconic Steve Jobs still has a lot to offer the world of business

Apple has faced a tough few months. iPhone sales – which account for almost two-thirds of Apple's business – are bottoming out.

This comes on the back of news that demand for the company's soon-to-launch iPhone 7 is so weak it's prompted chip makers to cut back on production. Growth in China is slowing big time (last quarter Apple's business in China was actually negative, dropping 26 percent).

Apple is also predicting weaker fourth quarter results than many analysts expected (down between three to six billion dollars). And while the company is still pulling in revenues in the tens of billions, it's not hard to imagine a few company executives – especially its CEO Tim Cook – starting to worry.

But perhaps the solution for Apple is to heed the advice of its iconic founder, Steve Jobs. "The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting; the cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament".

Steve Jobs made that bold statement when he returned to Apple after a 12-year absence. Apple was close to bankruptcy at the time, but that didn't stop Jobs from launching one innovative product after another.

He revolutionised the desktop computer, entertainment, music, and mobile phones, then introduced the world to products it never knew it wanted, with the App Store and iPad.  It's no wonder Steve Jobs is regularly called the most innovative business leader of the past decade.

But the principles that Jobs used to move from fiddling with electronics in the spare bedroom, then to the kitchen, and eventually into that famous garage, are not limited to Silicon Valley success. They are available to any business leader in any field, hoping to innovate and radically change the world.

1. "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it".

Passion is everything. Innovation just doesn't happen without it. Despite his role as Apple CEO, Steve Jobs wasn't passionate about computers. He was passionate about building devices that help people unleash their true potential.

One of Jobs' most telling remarks occurred at the end of his last major public presentation. Jobs said, "It's the intersection of technology and liberal arts that makes our hearts sing". If you haven't found what makes your heart sing, keep looking.

 

2. "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."

You require passion to get started, but it's your vision that will make that success happen. In the mid-1970s, personal computers were reserved solely for hobbyists, who assembled the parts themselves from kits.

The 'personal computer' didn't exist. But Jobs had a vision to "put a computer in the hands of everyday people". It was a bold, but specific idea, and inspired the first generation of Apple evangelists. Jobs believed the role of a leader is to hire the best people and keep them aligned toward achieving the vision.

3. "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life".

Steve Jobs thought that a broad set of experiences could lead people to ideas that others might have missed. It turns out, he was on to something. Researchers at Harvard have spent the last half decade studying the world's greatest innovators - in the fields of science and technology. They found that the best innovators take ideas from different fields, and apply them to the product or service they're currently working on.

Jobs took calligraphy class in college; a course with no practical applications to his life. But it proved worthwhile when it came in handy later, with the Macintosh, the first computer with beautiful typeface, fonts and calligraphy. Jobs didn't always know where the dots would connect, but connect they did.

4. "That's been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean and to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."

When Jobs returned to Apple, he was presented with a mess. He dramatically reduced the number of products the company made (famously ditching some of Apple's poorer selling products, like the Newton handheld PC), and made sure each of the remaining products had the best team behind it.

When Jobs unveiled the iPhone in 2007, he pointed out that while other smartphone makers were adding extra features and buttons, the iPhone removed them, making it simpler, cleaner and user-friendly. "Innovation comes from saying no to 1,000 things" quipped Jobs. A trip to an Apple Store – or even its minimalist website – is a great example of its dedication to simplicity.

5. "Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have faith in people, that they are basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them".

One of Steve Jobs biggest innovations wasn't in technology; it was customer experience. He studied the very best models in customer service and didn't look inside the technology sphere to find it.

When looking to improve its Retail Model, Steve Jobs was inspired by The Ritz-Carlton. He didn't look to his competitors; Jobs had a bigger vision for what a customer experience might look like.

 

6. "Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works".

Ultimately, Apple became the tech titan it is today because it sold dreams, not products. When Jobs opened the first Apple Store in 2001, he said it wasn't to 'sell computers'.

Instead, it would 'enrich lives'. While some people may care about your product, everyone cares about themselves. If you create produce that help others get what they want – and achieve their dreams – you can't help but win them over.

7. "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important".

Steve Jobs never lost the sparkle in his eye, or the ever-present flow of ideas, even in his last moments. He was open to hearing that sometimes you need to change on the long road to building your team.

Steve Jobs admits this was a bit of a paradox; you need hubris to believe your ideas are the best in the world, but you also risk losing your edge if you plough ahead without pausing once in a while to look around.

8. "We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn't build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren't going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build".

There are plenty of critics who will unintentionally (and intentionally) sabotage your ambitions. If your business was started to impress someone, you're setting yourself up for failure. While you need to be grateful to others for what they contribute, you can't build a business for validation.

9. "And one more thing…"

Steve Jobs was a master storyteller, but that didn't happen overnight. Jobs' presentations kills were refined over many years and hours of practice. You can have all the great ideas you want, but if you cannot convince others to take action and believe in your vision, you'll never be able to introduce new products and services. Every product should have a story, learn to tell it the right way.