I just finished Steve Jobs, the autobiography by Walter Isaacson. Highly recommended!! Buy it today; it's one of the best business biographies I have read, and it's pretty much a "tell all" story of Jobs and his life, warts and all.
And there are plenty of warts. He was quite prickly, obnoxious, and mean at times, even to people close to him. He could be self-centered, and sometimes in denial of the reality around him.
BUT - he was brilliant! And his light shone like perhaps no other in our generation. Isaacson thinks he will go down as equivalent to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, as the CEO who most influenced the society he lived in.
His is a remarkable story, an adopted child who became a rebel, a defiant hippie,a college dropout who experimented with LSD and left an early job at Atari to travel India for a year and meet various yogi.
But all these traits and experiences came together as he and Wozniak founded Apple with a new concept in consumer electronics. Jobs stated desire was to "put a dent in the universe". He thought of himself as an artist, and refused to design products that the consumer "thought" he wanted. Instead he, like Wayne Gretzky, skated to where the puck would be.
Jobs combined his artistry with unrelenting perfectionism, and a powerful and instinctual vision. His legendary pursuit of simplicity in design (that was true elegance) with a total focus on the user experience sets him apart from almost any other CEO or leader in today's world. He wanted to produce "insanely great products" - and he clearly did!
Among his unconventional business practices:
- He didn't believe in market research.
- Apple never had profit centers; instead they used synergy from all parts of the company.
- No decisions by committee; he made most of the big ones, often on instinct.
- He insisted on all "A" players on his team; no "B" players, no room for mediocrity.
- Product drove decisions, not the quest for profit.
- Very little reliance on partners; Apple had to have all control of critical processes and products
- Not afraid at all to cannibalize his own products: if Apple didn't do it, a competitor would!
And today? Apple is the most valuable company in the world!
So - does it seem like a big stretch to even mention Hussey Seating in the same blog post? Yes, of course it does. But we do aspire to many of these values, and I am indeed inspired after getting such an up close and personal view of Jobs - thank you, Mr. Isaacson.
I do think at Hussey Seating we can be driven by great products, by great people, and we can do more to ensure complete user satisfaction of our products. We are the leader in our own industry, and got here on the backs of great products, innovation, and a willingness to change. We can continue to be bold going forward, and look to Steve Jobs example for continued guidance (without the mean streak!).