Steve Jobs had a lot of success connecting with his customers. In an article in the Times Steve Lohr discusses four of his rules that led to his big successes: the i-Pod, i-Tunes, the i-Phone and the i-Pad. Let's look at these four rules:
DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO DELIGHT CUSTOMERS Six weeks before the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Mr. Jobs ordered a crucial design change. Until then, the planning for supplies, manufacturing and engineering had been based on the assumption that the smartphone’s face would be plastic. Plastic is less fragile than glass, and easier to make.
But the plastic touch screen had a drawback. It was prone to developing scratches. Those scratches, Mr. Jobs insisted, would irritate users and be seen as a design flaw. “All the logical facts told us to go with plastic, and Steve’s instinct went the other way,” Mr. Fadell says. “It was Steve’s call — his gut.”
The glass choice was a challenge that seemed “nearly impossible” at the time, he says — a last-minute scramble to get supplies of specialized glass and tweak the design of the phone’s casing to reduce the chances the glass would crack when an iPhone was dropped. But with extra investment and a frenetic work regimen, the switch proved doable, despite the tight deadline.
GOOD IDEAS TAKE TIME After he was ousted from Apple, Mr. Jobs founded NeXT in 1985. NeXT computers, in Mr. Jobs’s vision, would marry technology and the liberal arts by including digital books, music and art. Mr. Jobs began pursuing the rights to works that could be converted to digital form. He persuaded a few publishers that because they would save the expense of paper, printing and distribution, NeXT should pay a royalty that was a fraction of the cost of a printed book. Mr. Jobs, Mr. Hawley recalled, struck a deal with the Oxford University Press for the complete works of Shakespeare for a royalty of $1 a digital copy.
NeXT’s foray into education fizzled; its machines were too expensive for that market. But Mr. Jobs’s concept and business model for digital media were “the instinct that was translated to Apple with the iTunes store, 99-cents-a-song pricing and all the media offerings that have followed,” Mr. Hawley says.
DON’T DWELL ON MISTAKES Mr. Jobs was also decisive in recognizing mistakes, even when they were his own. For example, he favored one model of a disk drive — for reading computer programs stored on small, removable so-called floppy disks — while other members of the team championed another design. They kept their disk project going surreptitiously. When they showed him the result, he embraced it. “He turned on a dime,” Mr. Capps says. “Don’t dwell on your mistakes. It’s a great lesson.”
PASSION COUNTS FOR A LOT The relentless intensity and total commitment that Mr. Jobs brought to his work, former colleagues and friends agree, had a simple explanation: he genuinely enjoyed what he did and found it worthwhile.
Andy Hertzfeld, a member of original Macintosh team who is now an engineer at Google, says: “The most important thing that I learned from Steve is to always follow your heart. He believed that the only way to do truly great work is to adore what you are doing.”
Mr. Jobs made a lot of money over the years, for himself and for Apple shareholders. But money never seemed to be his principal motivation. One day in the late 1990s, Mr. Jobs and I were walking near his home in Palo Alto. Internet stocks were getting bubbly at the time, and Mr. Jobs spoke of the proliferation of start-ups, with so many young entrepreneurs focused on an “exit strategy,” selling their companies for a quick and hefty profit. “It’s such a small ambition and sad really,” Mr. Jobs said. “They should want to build something, something that lasts.”
I don't intend to lionize the man in this post. He had plenty of faults, espcially with the way he handled his people, But there is a lot to learn from him and following the above four rules will help any Project Manager or Leader.