Monday, 10 October 2011

Steve Jobs: He provided the standard to measure contemporary business excellence.

Setting the bar high.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011. A master of excellence.

by Tom Thorne
It is taken three days to really let Steve Job's death sink in. The first response is, of course, that 56 is too young. The next response is why such an innovative and creative human has been is swept away by pernicious cancers. There are no answer to these questions and so they leave a hole for a while.
I have been on a quest for excellence in computer hardware and software ever since I found the Apple II in a Computerland store back in 1976. Steve Jobs and Apple always seemed to be ahead of the industry. They were adventuresome in stretching technology but they did it and continue to do it with product design that ergonomically knocks your eye out.
Their products were and remain eye candy but they are eye candy with wonderful usefulness and high utility. They give pleasure to look at and work with. This story is being written on such a product. The iPad2 is such a neat product both in hardware and software that no other pad comes near its performance and sophistication.
Integrated products and software
The iPad version of Pages, the Apple word processor, downloads for $9.95 from the Apple App Store. It is completely compatible with the iWorks version I have on my iMac. I send stories for this blog out from the iPad via email and they work and edit perfectly. 
Every time I do this over the last few days it makes me think about Steve Jobs. It is his management of Apple that set the tone for these innovations and this level of compatibility between the Apple family of products.
Steve Jobs wasn't so much a tecky or even a software type. He wasn't a geek; he was in my view primarily a conceptual marketer. He possessed a knack for seeing upcoming technology and software concepts and turning these things into excellent Apple products. The real strength is that he has also set up a management and an Apple team do this time and time again.
They produce product and a product line with wow factor. Everyone else in this business has clunkiness and inelegance when compared with the Apple product lineup. Steve Jobs has left this legacy at Apple.
This attitude for building useful high utility, yet pleasing to look at products, is the work of Steve Jobs but it is also implemented by a team of design and manufacturing professionals who will I am certain continue on even with Steve Jobs gone.
Steve Jobs returned to Apple and set it on a course of excellence.
The Apple of today is not the Apple that Steve Jobs left when he was unceremoniously dumped for almost 12 years. They brought him back when they were almost broke and the results again you see today. IPods, iMacs, iPads on the hardware front. iTunes revolutionized how music is distributed and now the App store deals with software distribution.
And when he was away from Apple he produced the NexT machines and pushed the envelope of personal computing many steps forward. Then he started Pixar animation studios which largely is responsible for the high standards we now see in digital animation. He also sold Pixar to Disney and was on the Disney board until his death.
Steve Jobs was one of a kind. He possessed vision, a rare commodity in business. His leadership and enthusiasm for making neat things happen will be missed but his legacy at Apple has taken root and is in good hands.
The other day I saw a snippet of film as Steve Jobs received an honorary degree from Stanford University in 2007. He spoke candidly to the students about his illnesses and told the graduating class not to waste time but to get a hold of what they wanted to do and do it. Follow your passion was the message.
He was truly a master of excellence and a role model for contemporary high technology business community. He was often not the easiest person to deal with and could be impatient when his team were slow to grasp what he wanted. However, the results of his work and leadership speak for themselves. 
© Copyright  2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.

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