14 leadership lessons we can all learn from Jobs (Part Two and last)

Following up with the part of my article. I’d like to remind you that with this article, I just express my thoughts as a young UX Designer, using Walter Isaacson’s article. He is the author of Steve Job’s and Albert Einstein’s Biographies which I strongly recommend you to read. There are some things you might just not agree with or would like to further so I strongly recommend to share your point of view in the comment section below.

Following up with the last 7 points.

8. Do “impute”

This point is illustrated with Jobs and Ive’s obsessions about packaging. It refers again to the CEO’s best tool: a white board onto which he’d projects anything that slips his mind. Since I’m still wrapping my head around the verb impute, I’ll simply quote this bit:

“Sometimes, Job used the design of a computer rather than its sole feature to impute a signal. For example, when creating the new and ludic iMac upon his return at Apple, Ive showed him the design of a handle just right above the device. It was more symbolic than useful. It was about a desktop computer. Few were to grab it and take it around. But Jobs and Ive realized that most of people where still intimidated by computers. If it had a handle, the machine would seem more user-friendly and serving all. The manufacturing team opposed the raise in costs, but Jobs only said “Yes, we are going to do it”. He didn’t even bother explaining why.”


9. Aim for perfection (it’s worth the shot)

“Guys, I know you worked you hard on this design for the last 9 months, but we are about to change it” Jobs said to Ive’s team. “We must work nights and weekends and if you’d like, you can be given rifles so you can shoot us both right now”.

The iPhone’s initial design was bugging Apple’s leader who was loosing his sleep over it. In his pursuit of perfection, he came to realize he didn’t like some aspects which as a result initiated a start over from the ground up.

When I was a young boy, my mother used to tell me there are things I’ll do in life that people would never ever see. That they will never get the chance to appreciate how much effort I’ve put into something I highly committed to do. I -and I only- will know its value and that should please me plenty.

Logic boards inside Apple devices are designed with an aesthetic sense of details. They ARE meant to look the way they do, the way they’re presented. Following Jobs’ impulse, should they challenge engineers’ understanding.

For the record, the very first Macintosh had the engineers' signature molded into its central unit case. Not one, not few, all 48 of them including Wozniak and Jobs themselves. 
For the record, the very first Macintosh had the engineers’ signature molded into its central unit case. Not one, not few, all 48 of them including Wozniak and Jobs themselves.

Aim for perfection. Whatever you get can only be a valuable reward.


10. Tolerate only top class players

In different places, Walter Isaacson writes about Jobs’ carefully crafted and managed entourage. As for management, if it wasn’t for the way he treated his employees, “mediocre people would want to stay”, impacting his pursuit of perfection. Instead, if one could resist the hard treatment he gave, that would already be an achievement.

Anyone can agree that alternatives ways of management could have been exercised. Although, what really maatters in here, is that Apple’s former CEO’s nature transcended all the way from his cold-hearted self to his achievements in business. To wrap it up, remember that the Great Steve considered questioning your intimacy to you point that you give up, a normal recruitment process.


11. Initiate 1-to-1

Talking about “designing your immediate surroundings”, it’s highlighted in the article that Apple’s campus was built to entice occasional encounters. People would meet each other every day in the central atrium, coming in, leaving, taking a break. Workers from every floor and department would meet and greet. Creativity was considered the child of random encounters.

I am a musician. I have studied music for the last 10 years, and for a big part of it, I was on my own with online tutorials and MOOCs. Online social interactions paradoxically do raise a certain feeling of isolation. As a musician, isolation is your arch-enemy as you practice something that only finds its value in the other’s ears. Or you just get really bored. Though I’d need loneliness to help mature my projects, I was never happier going out there “in the field” and play at jam sessions or on stage. Every musician would tell you lots of fun comes from informal encounters. At work, in a bar, on a plane, any social interaction in the real world could potentially take me further with music. It actually did happen in these three locations I just listed.

Moreover, as an artistic soul, I dislike formality and rules. At work, my interviews or presentation are done my way.  Where my colleagues would send an email to each other, I’d make a phone call. If they’d make a phone call, I’d get off my chair and go talk to that person when possible. In my job as a UX Designer, there is a major part of feel, that I believe fades away depending on both the mean of communication and the environment. As for my own creativity and/or channeling the right message across the room.


12. Overview at once the big and the small picture

Simply put: That’s when one develops a global strategy for their monthly magazine agency but they also worry whether they should add gloss on the paper or not. Every company is doing that job as a structure. Isaacson depicts Jobs doing it as a sole person.

It rewinds back to the “be in control” part above but adds the bird’s view. “Global User Experience Design” (which I just made up) is a transverse field that goes across the whole company. From product management to service design, marketing to business development or logistics. A UX Designer will have to interact with all these aspects, let alone people themselves, promoting more and more the position of UXO.

User Experience Officer.


3. Combine literature and science.

Consider a poetic story from a book and the syntax mechanics with every phrasings. The sacred intangible box that your right brain is, and the ordinat that transpires from your left brain. Ordinat is latin for “God set things in order” (In French, computer translates into “Ordinateur”, first used by IBM France). According to Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs was the very synthesis of both his right and left brain’s perpetual contradictions.

A rebel character who dealt with that strict kind of business, let alone the pressure of stakeholders. Jobs always considered himself a hacker which reflected on his work and as a consequence, on Apple’s products. Not only a technology had to be useful and made easy, but it also had to have that “poetically abstract” part in it. Something that says “Hey, I’m not just a rude blunt piece of tech!”. Something you’d have pleasure using, watching, customize, toying with. Something that makes you interact with your friends because you enjoy it so much. It could be the design of a computer central unit, or one’s personal design for their bureau. It could be modding your Android phone or the unusual knife holder in your kitchen. It’s not just what you see by clicking these links, it’s the very intent to customize technologies, to humanize them. that process could be user-born, or initiated straight from conception. Best to describe it is to compare ergonomics in B2C and B2B solutions. The first is made user friendly while the other… the other really makes it clear that it’s not addressing humans, but businesses. (Which really grinds my gears because at the end of the day, it’s men and women who are dealing with it 8 hours per day).

Best example of addressing businesses instaed of people: Microsoft Word back in the days:

"I mean really dude, put the highlight on all the things it can do! Let's not care about what's actually used, the cognitive load, half the screen rendered useless... in 2001".
“I mean really dude, put the highlight on all the things it can do! Let’s not care about what’s actually used, the cognitive load, half the screen rendered useless… in 2001”.

As I said before, I am a musician. As such, I sometimes get to deal with a lot of introspection then to output my feelings or memories, I use words and sounds. Lately, I felt l wanted to write about how the “artist-me” opposed to the “corporate-me”. I’d rather feel pressured behind deadlines whereas I feel like blooming when tasked with learning a new song within the hour. On both sides of the page though, I do need the technologies I use not to kill my creativity.

I mean really, there is nothing like a white page to jot down ideas, paper-prototypes, lyrics, songs, which is why, until tablets shows the same features, they won’t replace books or papers and render the 0-paper movement a myth. Oh believe me, I tried replacing my music sheets with my iPad… What a myth. Once you’ve struggle putting the content in your iPad, editing it is a real hassle. It should be as easy as using a pencil on sheet of paper but it’s anything but that. It is still very inconvenient. much friction, much cognitive load, much trickiness into tasks.

Technology by its mere definition reduces mental/physical effort to produce equally or more. It is welcome on constructions sites, bank systems, water pipes, online services, or even in music when it helps find the last 3 chords. But when it automatically suggest the remaining three chords and rhythm for you based on algorithms that scans the current Top 50 charts, it’s simply crossing the line and -to me-, you’re no longer doing “studying” music and the technology/man duo has lost its point. That could sum up my understanding of science and literature combination.


14. “Stay hungry, stay foolish”


“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

— Apple Ads 1984

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