Being Steve Job’s Boss: Understanding Vision

Being Steve Job’s Boss: Understanding Vision

I don’t know if the follow quote from the Bloomberg BusinessWeek article of October 25-October 31 2010 (Being Steve Job’s Boss) will get to you as much as it did me, but I talk about vision all of the time and try to coach companies into finding their vision. Steve Jobs and Dr. Land understand vision in a way most people don’t – and if they did, we might have a lot more innovation. I think many people do see things like this, but they don’t feel empowered by their employers to act on what they see. Rather than unleash innovation as many firms trumpet in their corporate literature, they go out of their way to stifle it except among those who are supposed to practice it. And as all practitioners of innovation know, real innovation always comes from places you lest expect.

I’ll let the quotes work on you by themselves without further commentary.

Yeah, I remember when Steve and I went to meet Dr. Land. Dr. Land had been kicked out of Polaroid. He had his own lab on the Charles River in Cambridge. It was a fascinating afternoon, because we were sitting in this big conference room with an empty table. Dr. Land and Steve were both looking at the center of the table the whole time they were talking. Dr. Land was saying: “I could see what the Polaroid camera should be. It was just as real to me as if it was sitting in front of me before I had ever built one.”

And Steve said, “Yeah, that’s exactly the way I saw the Macintosh.” He said, “If I asked someone who had only used a personal calculator what a Macintosh should be like, they couldn’t have told me. There was no way to do consumer research on it, so I had to go and create it, and then show it to people, and say now what do you think?”

Both of them had this ability not to invent products but to discover products. Both of them said these products have always existed—it’s just that no one has ever seen them before. We were the ones who discovered them. The Polaroid camera always existed, and the Macintosh always existed—it’s a matter of discovery.

Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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