There is no doubt that Steve Jobs is an innovator in the same caliber as Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and other people of great imagination and intellect. Jobs founded Apple in 1976, and while the company experienced fits and starts, it was among the world’s biggest companies when Jobs died in 2011. Jobs operated with anything but a soft touch, being infamous for his brusqueness and harsh criticism, but he stands in a world of his own when it comes to management style and effectiveness. One reason is because of his focus on simplification. Here are five tricks from Steve Jobs to help your business simplify, no matter what industry you’re in.
- Do what you love, and trust your intuition.
Jobs didn’t put much stock in focus groups or market research, as the Harvard Business Review explains; he said that people often have no idea what they want until they see it. So, he focused on making products that he and his friends would enjoy. The iPod, a music player smaller than a pocket and that could hold thousands of songs, was born. The lesson here is not to worry so much about quizzing customers on what they want. Instead, ask yourself: “What product or service from this company would be ideal for me?” and go from there.
- Promote creativity in meetings.
Jobs loved creativity and tossing around ideas face to face. He also hated the limitations and the soul-crushing vibe of tightly regimented meetings. To that end, he met once a week with marketing and advertising personnel–no slideshows allowed.
Why not try it in your company? Get back to the basics, and make meetings fun and productive. Engage team members rather than making them study slide presentations.
- Focus on depth rather than breadth.
Under Jobs’ tutelage, Apple kept a narrow focus, as The Motley Fool explains. This emphasis ensured that a relatively small number of products continually received quality attention. If your company’s focus has become too broad, go smaller; Apple did. Stay in your niche, make a name for yourself, and do what you do best.
- Products first, profits later.
It’s easy for a company to lose focus if it’s too fixated on the bottom line. Jobs had enough confidence in his work to know that profits would follow. And they did. Simplification really can be as simple as changing your approach.
- No need to measure everything.
Jobs embraced culture and the humanities; an article in the Harvard Business Review illustrates his philosophy especially well. Jobs knew that people are people first, but many companies make the mistake of seeing their employees only as job titles that need to meet certain goals. While business schools don’t emphasize the soft skills Jobs loved, your company can. Simplify some processes by recognizing people as people, give them independence and trust, and they’ll reward you.
So, there you have it. Do what you love, don’t worry about what other people think, and choose a niche market instead of trying to do everything. While those principles seem like common sense, they can be easy for new and established businesses alike to lose sight of.