The Role Of Personality In Business: Steve Jobs

August 30, 2011

After the news that Steve Jobs has quit as CEO of Apple (becoming an overseeing Chairman), there have been many posts on the pros and cons of his inimitable style and to what extent this is critical to Apple’s longer term financial success.

From the incisive David Pogue:

But despite these positive signs, there’s one heck of a huge elephant in the room — one unavoidable reason why it’s hard to imagine Apple without Mr. Jobs steering the ship: personality.

His personality made Apple Apple. That’s why no other company has ever been able to duplicate Apple’s success. Even when Microsoft or Google or Hewlett-Packard tried to mimic Apple’s every move, run its designs through the corporate copying machine, they never succeeded. And that’s because they never had such a single, razor-focused, deeply opinionated, micromanaging, uncompromising, charismatic, persuasive, mind-blowingly visionary leader.

Bearing this in mind, this quote from the rather wise Peter Drucker is instructive:

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”

However on the issue of the necessity of a leader, like Jobs, to have ‘fatal flaws’, you can also quote Bernard Shaw (Maxims for Revolutionists):

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

With all this in mind, it’s interesting to hear that an Apple University has been set up to help the management transition. This organisation is rather secretive (in keeping with Apple’s general approach) but seems to be concerned with sharing knowledge of the thought processes and decision making of senior Apple management. See the infographic below for more details.

Here’s a bit more fascinating info on ‘life inside Apple‘ from the Guardian.

Update: some more recent info on the Apple University here.

Picture credits: above and below.



Good Tip For Overcoming Procrastination

August 29, 2011

From Leo Babauta at Zen Habits:

Identify the most important thing you have to do today.

Decide to do just the first little part of it — just the first minute, or even 30 seconds of it. Getting started is the only thing in the world that matters.

Clear away distractions. Turn everything off. Close all programs. There should just be you, and your task.

Sit there, and focus on getting started. Not doing the whole task, just starting.

Pay attention to your mind, as it starts to have urges to switch to another task. You will have urges to check email or Facebook or Twitter or your favorite website. You will want to play a game or make a call or do another task. Notice these urges.

But don’t move. Notice the urges, but sit still, and let them pass. Urges build up in intensity, then pass, like a wave. Let each one pass.

Notice also your mind trying to justify not doing the task. Also let these self-rationalizing thoughts pass.

Now just take one small action to get started. As tiny a step as possible.

Get started, and the rest will flow.

I used this method this morning prior to noticing the above and it worked a treat on something I had been putting off for ages. However, and somewhat annoyingly, when I actually focused on the task, it turned out to be remarkably simple. I easily spent more time avoiding it than actually doing it. I’ve experienced this before but obviously haven’t yet really learned from it, or am I just procrastinating once again?

Determination And Business Success

August 19, 2011

Surprising and interesting quote from the inventor and designer James Dyson (gleaned from Runners World of all places):

What I’ve learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you’re hurting like crazy and you want to give up. The moment you should accelerate is the moment you’re the most tired. The beginning of the final lap is the testing point, and so I found that to be in life. Success is often just around the corner. You might make a discovery. You might call it obstinacy or determination.

It almost made me sort of relish that moment. I see it as an opportunity, that point where if you know you can get through that bit, you’re going to make an important discovery that someone else might have made except they gave up, because they couldn’t get through the difficulties. I got that from running.

It reminded me of a quote from restauranteur Pru Leith on a similar topic, doggedness.

As I mentioned then, often in business there is a focus on the sexy topics of creativity, imagination, knowledge, innovation, strategy and so on but sometimes the key to success can lie in persistence and determination. In other words, an attitude of mind, and oddly something which is rarely discussed in courses and workshops even though it appears it’s something that can be learned and developed (as in Dyson’s running story above).

On this topic, Seth Godin interestingly put ‘attitude’ as his top factor for business success (above Approach, Goals etc).

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Winston Churchill

Picture credit here.

The Fate Of Explorers

August 2, 2011

A friend of mine, David Gurteen, well-known through his Knowledge Cafes and knowledge network, is very keen on quotations.

One from a few days ago that caught my attention was (I thought):

‘Explorers have to be ready to be lost’ (or words to that effect).

At the time this resonated with me as I’m currently thinking through ideas for setting up a new business and, in spite of having written numerous business plans for projects and startups, I’d found myself a little ‘lost’. The imagined quote was then quite helpful as it made me realise that this is, after all, pretty normal and, unless the business is obvious, to be expected.

So I thought I’d wrote this short post on how handy the occasional quote can be in clarifying real world business situations as well as providing interesting insights into life.

However, whilst writing this, I re-checked David’s tweet to find that the actual quote was:

‘Explorers have to be ready to die lost.’ Russell Hoban

Hmm, not quite the same…

Well, I’m still keeping to my version!

Picture credit here.