Thursday, October 27, 2011

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

I'm almost finished reading the new biography of Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. The book is a good read; it contains a lot of first-hand information, which is useful in reconstructing a creative process. One thing strikes me as odd though. The author and many other characters in the book say that Jobs was a complex man. I think this is incorrect. Jobs acted on a simple principle: to get done what he wanted to be done, he had to push people, including himself, to the limit. There are just two variables in this process: Jobs' ability to push (or manipulate) and the person's limit. He always chose what he called the A team, so that the team could produce, and he drove people on the team to perform at the top of their abilities.

A good illustration would be the early episode with Steve Wozniak when he designed a super circuit board in four days instead of weeks because Jobs gave him this impossible fake deadline. It's a recurring pattern of behavior: pushing somebody to the limit without being afraid to break the person. Some did handle it for a while, many did not. That is also why Jobs easily took credit for other people's work and ideas because he felt it was to his credit to push them above what they thought was possible. Some appreciated it, many didn't.

tags: creativity, business, method, management

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