Three apples changed the world; Adam's, Newton's, and Steve Jobs’. The inspiration for this article has come from Carmine Gallo’s new book, “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs”. This book is a tribute to a great leader, who has inspired the people of this era in so many ways, to the Edison of our century. Some of the innovative thoughts he exercised to make great innovations are put forth for your view.
1. Put a Dent in the Universe: “Innovation requires a team and you cannot inspire evangelists unless you offer a compelling vision….”
2. Sell Dreams, Not Products: Steve Jobs doesn’t rely on focus groups. He avoids most focus groups like the plague. It comes down to the very real fact that most customers don’t know what they want in a new product. Apple customers should be glad Jobs doesn’t do focus groups. If he had, they may never have enjoyed iPods, iTunes, the iPhone, the iPad, or Apple Stores. Jobs doesn’t need focus groups because he understands his customers really, really well. Yes, sometimes better than they know themselves… Sure, “listen” to your customers and ask them for feedback. Apple does that all the time. But when it comes to breakthrough success at Apple, Steve Jobs and his team are the company’s best focus group. Asked why Apple doesn’t do focus groups, Jobs responded: “We figure out what we want. You can’t go out and ask people ‘what’s the next big thing?’ There’s a great quote by Henry Ford. He said, “If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘A faster horse’.
3. Say No to 1,000 Things: “Steve Jobs once said the secret to innovation comes from “Saying no to 1,000 things.” In other words, Jobs is as proud of what Apple chooses not to do as he is about what Apple chooses to focus on. This philosophy has helped Apple introduce products that wow consumers because of their elegance and simplicity…”
4. Create Insanely Great Experiences: “There are no cashiers at an Apple Store. There are specialists, creatives — even geniuses — but no cashiers. Although the Apple Stores have no commissioned sales staff, they generate more revenue per square foot than most other widely recognized brands. Why? According to Jobs, “People don’t want to just buy personal computers anymore. They want to know what they can do with them, and we’re going to show people exactly that…”
Reflecting on the above four innovation secrets, the one that stands out for me is the ability of Steve Jobs to understand what the customer actually wants and not just what the customer needs. It is this the unique ability of great leaders, to gain deep insight into their constituents and to provide a vision, purpose and dream that speaks to their unspoken desires and aspirations. Just as a changing context allows new and innovative products to be created and become successful. A changing context calls for new kinds of leaders and new approaches to leadership. The ten practical ways leaders can influence innovation in the Organization are given below
1. Remove fear from your organization. Innovation means doing something new, something that may fail. If people fear failing, they will not innovate.
2. Make innovation part of the performance review system for everyone. Ask them what they will create or improve in the coming year and then track their progress.
3. Document an innovation process and make sure everyone understands it as well as his or her role in it.
4. Build in enough looseness into the system for people to explore new possibilities and collaborate with others inside and outside the organization.
5. Make sure that everyone understands the corporate strategy and that all innovation efforts are aligned with it. However, also create a process for handling the outlier ideas that don’t fit the strategy but are too good to throw away.
6. Teach people to scan the environment for new trends, technologies and changes in customer mindsets.
7. Teach people the critical importance of diversity of thinking styles, experience, perspectives and expertise. Expect diversity in all activities related to innovation.
8. Good criteria can focus ideation; however, overly restrictive criteria can stifle ideation and perpetuate assumptions and mindsets from the past. Spend the time necessary upfront to develop market and success-related parameters that will take you into the future.
9. Innovation teams are different from “regular” project teams. They need different tools and different mindsets. Provide enough training and coaching so that when people are working on an innovation team, they can be successful.
10. Buy or develop an idea management system that captures ideas in a way that encourages people to build on and evaluate new possibilities.
In one of his decorated speeches Steve Jobs made this remark “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.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 other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary “. Truly an immortal statement for every aspirant who want to live his own destiny.