I have been reading a book called “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success,” by Ken Segall. Segall was on the marketing team hired by Apple during the Steve Jobs era and he uses the book to explain how Apple’s dedication to simplicity made it successful.
My favorite example in the book is when Segall explains how Jobs told an employee that she was not necessary for a meeting. We have all seen in the corporate world how counterproductive large meetings can be. Segall explains that a small group of smart people can get more accomplished than a large group.
We are often trapped under the delusion that more minds create better ideas, when in fact more minds just create MORE ideas, not necessarily BETTER ones. The best example to me would be to look at our government. How many committees are there and how often do they get anything accomplished? If government operated like other businesses, all politicians would be fired!
Granted the country is a huge subject and we can’t leave any stone unturned, but smaller groups try to operate in the same way and rarely accomplish anything. I was on a committee for Medicaid a couple of years ago and I honestly think the only thing we accomplished was keeping the donut shops in business. Every meeting was a repeat of the last. There were 30 new ideas each time and we had no direction. A small group of 4 or 5 people could have made some decisions and acted on a plan. The plan may not have worked out, but at least something would have been done! Then the committee could have regrouped and tried again.
We are consumed by fear of failure or a lawsuit, which causes us to bring in more people just to make sure we aren’t looking over anything. However, those extra minds just slow us down. Apple has had many successes, but has also had many failures. The company almost died after Steve Jobs was ousted as CEO. When he returned, the company grew to be the largest company in the world, which is amazing considering it was started in the garage of a college drop out. Now they have enough reserve cash that they can take chances, fail, and try again until the product is just right.
Steve Jobs was fearless and Apple succeeded. Shakespeare said, “A coward dies many times before his death.” Steve Jobs was no coward. He knew exactly what he wanted Apple to become and how he wanted to change the world. He hired great people that shared his vision and fired those who said it couldn’t be done. In a speech, Jobs said “Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
In his book, Ken Segall says, “Your challenge is to become unbending when it comes to enforcing your standards. If you submit only the work you believe in 100% of the time and approve only the work you believe in 100%, you own something that no one can take away from you: Integrity.”
I think we should all operate in an effort to keep our integrity. We should always listen to our hearts in our personal and professional life. Sometimes people won’t agree with us or even become offended, but if we all were honest and stayed true to our beliefs, the world would be a better place.