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Steve Jobs has always been more than a guy who develops great devices. To me, he personifies, once and for all, the value of creativity in the business world. And for that, as much as the obvious concern about his health, is the reason I was saddened by the news his resignation.
“Here’s to the crazy ones” wasn’t just a mid-90s ad campaign that foreshadowed Apple greatness. It was a business plan. A belief in ideas. In design. In taste. It’s a belief that not taking risks is the riskiest thing to do. That creativity isn’t a department in a company; it’s a mandatory. That inventing a need trumps filling a need. That creating desire for a product is a better strategy than commoditizing a product. No one loves a Dell.
Every industry seems to have that one creative person upon whose shoulders the next generation stands. Advertising has Bernbach, who’s insights will always be true. Branson shook up the staid world of airlines. But what Jobs has done, especially in the techy world of computing, is incredible. He had the vision to change everything, the drive to change everything, and in the end, he changed everything, from the way we communicate to the movies we watch to how we listen to music to the stores we shop in. Not to mention the computers we use.
“It’s not the consumers job to know what they want,” is a quote I have on my wall. It’s a confident quote, I’ll admit. But the truth behind it is the belief that design can drive desire, that a well-developed gut instinct is better than product testing, that creativity can measurably increase sales. In being crazy enough to believe innovation, design and taste can do anything.
There will be hundreds of articles about Jobs the days ahead, and I won’t be surprised when many take the position that Jobs remains a bit of an oddity, someone who isn’t quite business material. The focus will be on the idiosyncrasies, the temperament, the ego. Others will look long-term and wonder if Apple can survive without him. Not me. Today, I’m looking back, thinking of my Apple 320C, circa 1995, the first color laptop. Followed by that black G3 Powerbook. A G4 Powerbook. OSX and iTunes, iChat, and iPhoto. A couple of iPods, an iMac, an iPhone. All these beautiful, well designed things that filled a need I didn’t even know I had. That’s what Jobs has done, that’s why his belief system is so relevant to everyone in marketing. Forget surpassing Exxon as the most valuable company isn’t enough, or the 9000% stock growth, or literally changing the world. Simply, Jobs proves innovation matters. He has to be considered the most creative CEO ever. Call me crazy.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons User: SecretAgent007