Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)

Firstly, and most important: Steve Jobs was a son, a husband and father.
Their loss is immeasurable, and that is the only thing that matters. Everything else is secondary.

About these secondary matters:

Everything that many organisations and individuals are publisishing in memory of Steve is well worth reading. In fact they're all worth securely archiving away to ensure future generations don't lose sight of what is clearly a great loss. It's what I've been doing the past two days.

However, I somehow can't quite come to terms with the notion that his greatness lay in the wonderful products many of us know, love and use every day. Or the fact that he revolutionised entire industries.

Apple is known for its clarity of strategy, commitment to values they hold dear, and what they consider to be important or not.

However, just as important is the idea that you can build an entire organisation around these high-minded values; one that bucks current trends, thought processes and corporate logic; one that defies common market logic, is unafraid to experiment and essentially change the rules of the game (or sometimes the game itself).

And most importantly, be actually able to execute and deliver on these.

For anyone who has tried to manage a modest size project, team, department or an organisation knows exactly how difficult this is to achieve.

How do you:

  • get a few thousand people to work together with one clear vision in mind?
  • hire great people, empower them, watch them grow and flourish, and produce great things?
  • deal with the enormous complexities of the products and services you’re developing, and to deliver something that brings a near instantaneous smile to those that hold it?
  • ensure that the formula that works today is retained, taught, challenged, and improved – over and over again?
  • build an organisation that is genetically engineered not to jump on every emerging trend, and to not fear cannibalisation of its own product lines?

Jobs answered all of the above questions, and many more, and the answer is Apple. He may have led the way and taught us many things. But Apple is a constant lesson in how we think about technology, business organisation and patterns.

To borrow the sentiment from the famous 1984 Apple Super Bowl ad campaign: you can either love or hate them, but you certainly cannot ignore them.

Apple is Jobs’s greatest creation.

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The list below is in my view essential reading for knowing more about Steve Jobs from those that knew him personally. or have studied his work and Apple in more detail.