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Building a business – the Steve Jobs way

While there was much debate about his management style Steve Jobs must have got a lot ‘right’ bearing in the current status of Apple as the world’s largest corporation. It might be useful for you to benchmark you own approach to his, which could be summarised as follows:

  1. Market participation. Participate in a market only where you can make a significant difference. He had no time for ‘me too’ products. He had passion and a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve, which inspired those that worked for him and has attracted a loyal and expanding customer base. Does the product or service you offer make a significant difference?
  2. Creativity and innovation. It is probably an understatement to say that he encouraged thinking ‘outside the box’. He said ‘ people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do’. Is creative thinking encouraged and rewarded in your company?
  3. Strategic Focus. Apple has proved that it is possible to be a world player while having a limited product offering. He used to say that businesses should offer no more than 5 products. At the brain storming stage Apple considers a large number of options, but ultimately focuses resources on a small number of products. Might your business be more successful if you narrowed it’s focus?
  4. Excellence in design and execution. Jobs had the capacity to think and dream big but when in came to product quality no detail was overlooked. Could you say the same?
  5. Customer needs. We all know that the ‘customer is king’ but Jobs took this to a whole new level. He looked at product design almost exclusively through the eyes of the user, simplifying everything to the maximum extent to enhance the user experience beyond the customers expectations? Do you give sufficient attention to understanding user needs or offering the user an experience he/she hadn’t thought possible ?
  6. Product focus. In many businesses sales people are the most highly valued. For Steve Jobs it was all about the product and ongoing product development. Do you devote enough attention to ongoing product/service innovation bearing in mind developments within and outside your sector? You may have been innovative once but is this still the case?
  7. Quality of the workforce. Steve Jobs could be ruthless if offloading those whom he saw as under performers. Do you need to restructure your workforce and add or develop or acknowledge ‘A team’ players?
  8. Team concept. Structurally Jobs didn’t allow competing divisions or a focus on individual performance. Rewards were team based. Do you tolerate competing rivalries in your business? Is everybody aligned around a common vision?
  9. Culture. While controlling by nature Jobs encouraged open and honest communication and gave honest feedback (often brutally honest!). Do you encourage open and honest debate of issues and challenges in your business?
  10. Integration. Jobs has been criticised for favouring closed systems, but this does have the advantage of guaranteeing that the end to end solution is fully integrated. Are all aspects of your offering fully integrated from product development to the way the product or service,  is marketed, packaged and sold?

Food for thought !

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