Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jobs... His most signficant influencer

I purposely have avoided starting Isaacson's  book on Steve Jobs  until this month. Intuitively, I think I might have been biased by the hype after his death. I primarily read biographies to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of leaders and I have found that they are best read when I can be distant from the actual subject. 

From my early reading on the first 100 pages of the book, I find Isaacson's book an excellent read due to the transparent way he describes Jobs.  I have already had one profound thought emerge from the pages of Job's life.  I have noticed that most of the reviews I have read over look the real impact of his father on Job's success. Oh, they acknowledge his influence on craftsmanship and the need to make a product look good both on the inside and outside. What I have not noticed until reading the book is a much more signficant impact I believe his father had on Jobs.

Job's father was a pretty good handy man. Seems there were few things he couldn't fix or build. Whether it be a fence, or car, a chair or whatever, a theme emerges of a dad who pretty much took care of things himself and rarely had to rely on help from others. He also seemed to always make ends meet. Even the idea of paying for Reed College.. Dad figured it out.  He also was not a career employee at a time when most were. Through a series of jobs and his own "fix it up" jobs, his father managed to do quite well despite his lack of an education.  One might say, his father may have been the most resilient person Job's would ever know. 

Reflect on that word.. resilient.  Not the first word we hear in discussions of Job's successes. No, we hear words like innovator or creative. Words like smart or visionary.  What sometimes we forget is that Job's had as many failures as he did successes. Now it would be unfair to say that others have not metioned this. I remember thinking how great he was to have left and then returned to lead Apple. In the past, I maybe attributed too much to his intellegence and vision... but after just 100 pages, I am willing to reshift my view.

Steve Jobs was alot of things, but maybe the most important thing was he was an explorer who sought to try things. Good things, bad things, he kept exploring. Just like his father, he was a fix it man, looking for the next opportunity. We know the successes like Pixar and the iphone.. but he tried for years to create an apple tv... how many iteration.. who knows. But he kept pushing through walls. Trying new ways and new projects. What I do know is he has a resilience learned from his father to keep trying things. Where there are creative people and visionary people, what Jobs brought was the reality of the fix it man.. just keeping trying and eventually, you will find you way... So maybe there is a good reason for father's day instead of just to sell socks and ties.  Thanks to all the fathers, mine included who teach us when we are not looking...  Now..back to the book...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way.

Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serous in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.

Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it’s essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to continue to grow."

- William McKnight, 3M Chairman, 1948

- As shared by Scott Berkun, The Myths of Innovation