“On Dr. Ralph Steinman and Steve Jobs”

by Scott Berinato, editor @ HBR, (source), accessed 5th Oct ’12

 

A visionary who influenced the lives of countless millions across the world has died after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

He is Dr. Ralph Steinman, a biologist who on Monday, three days after his death, won the Nobel prize in medicine. Steinman discovered what he called dendritic cells, which unlocked the puzzle of how the body reacts to infection. It changed how we treat cancer, infectious diseases and immune system disorders.

Steve Jobs also passed away, most likely also from pancreatic cancer, on Wednesday. I admit to finding the instant canonization of Jobs discomfiting. The effusive Facebook tributes, the clogged Twitter stream, the sudden attribution of every positive interaction with technology to this one man, seemed out of proportion, even erroneous.

But I couldn’t quite explain myself to colleagues and friends. It appeared to them that I was some sort of hateful, grave-stomping misanthrope. He changed all of our lives, they yelled at me. Think of all the things you do with his products, they pleaded. His beautiful products!

I agreed that he steered one of the great American business comeback stories. He was aremarkably effective CEO for the past decade. He oversaw more hits than misses. Whether it was his own aesthetic or one he trusted to the industrial designers he hired — who, more than anyone else, define the brand — Apple has created a singular vision. It can’t be an accident that consumer technology’s overthrow of information technology as the primary driver of innovation and progress, along with the rise of social media, has occurred in lockstep with the rise of Apple.

But something about the outpouring — the flowers at retail outlets, the digital candle iPad app — still gnawed at me. Was it the fact he bullied his way to dominance? Was it his complicated, some would say underwhelming record on philanthropy (especially compared to competitive titan Bill Gates)? Was it the glib reaction to low-wage workers hurling themselves off buildings at the factories that make his products? That all bothered me, but that wasn’t quite it either.

Then I read Dr. Steinman’s obituary. I was moved not only by how profoundly his discoveries have changed medicine, but by the astonishing fact that, to stave off his own cancer, he was using treatments developed from his own Nobel-winning discovery. I tunneled down one of those rabbit holes of links from the obituary, to pages on the dendritic cell, to all the treatments his discovery has enabled. I learned quite a bit and felt better for knowing at least this little bit about this important man.

It hit me then that the root of my unease was not with whether or not Steve Jobs deserved canonization, but rather that Steve Jobs is the person we now nominate for canonization. A celebrity mogul. A distant billionaire who built beautiful first-world comforts. This is who we consider our beacon, our leader, the person who is worthy of understanding and following (literally, on Twitter) and remembering. This is who energizes us to change profile pictures and post our personal thanks for his existence.

And somehow, Dr. Steinman is not someone we’d choose. Maybe this says more about the perfunctory nature of social media and its ability to create an echo chamber of thoughtless attempts to be part of the conversation. What does it cost me, really, to click like, or swap out a picture, or link to a YouTube video, or profess to the world that a phone has fundamentally changed my existence?

Certainly that’s part of what’s driving this, but then again, Jobs’ death has commanded above-the-fold page 1 space for two consecutive days in the old media Times’ print edition and has dominated network news coverage. (The story of Steinman’s posthumous Nobel selection ran on page 1; his obituary on page A20). This is not just the social media effect. These are our values. They’re my values. In fact, I stumbled on Steinman’s obituary while doing a search related to Jobs, on pancreatic cancer. That was the source of the queasiness.

From what little I know, I’d suggest that Steinman was every bit the visionary that Steve Jobs was. His work profoundly affects anyone who has experienced disease, which is everyone. Entirely new strains of innovation emerged from his work. Once, I believe, a scientist like Steinman would have commanded the public’s undying adulation, much the way Jonas Salk did. I started to ask myself if Salk had died in the social media era, what would have been the reaction on Facebook and Twitter. In Steinman, I had a proxy: There’s a Facebook page for him: “Ralph Steinman Nobel Prize.” 174 people like this.

 

image source: steveyoungmac, accessed 5th Oct ’12

“Steve Jobs and Management by Meaning”

by Roberto Verganti, Professor of Management of Innovation at Politecnico di Milano, Visiting Professor at Mälardalen University in Sweden, Member of the Design Leadership Board of the European Commission, (source), accessed 5th Oct ’12

 

Steve Jobs has always been considered an anomaly in management; his leadership style was something to admire or to criticize, but definitely not to replicate. He did not fit into the frameworks of business textbooks: there was orthodox management, and then there was Steve Jobs.

The reason why institutional management theories have always looked at his style as an exception is that he was navigating a territory that is often obscure to management: the creation of meaning, both for customers and employees.

He put people at the center. Which does not imply that he gave users what they wanted, nor that he created a flat playful organization where ideas flew from the bottom up. Apple’s approach to innovation is definitely not user-driven: it does not listen to users, but makes proposals to them. And narrations on Jobs’s leadership style tells of a vertical, top-down approach, often harsh. At new product launches, he, not the team, was the protagonist.

“Managing by meaning” is recognizing that people are human: they have rational, cultural, and emotional dimensions, and they appreciate the person who creates a meaning for them to embrace. We know customers do not buy Apple’s product simply because of utility or functionality; people are even prone to forgive some of Apple’s technical limitations in exchange for great design — and identity. For Jobs, design was not only beauty, but creating new meanings for users.

Jobs was constantly driven by the search for products that made more sense to people. And Apple has been a champion in creating new product meanings: the iMac G3, released in 1998, with his colorful translucent materials inspired by modern households products, changed the meaning of computers from office objects to home devices; the iPod plus the iTunes application and store created a new meaning in the world of music — accessibility — by making it easier to search, discover, buy, listen to, and organize music wherever a customer was; the iPhone turned the meaning of smart phones from objects for business to objects of social entertainment. These products where not necessarily best in class in terms of performance, but they were more meaningful to users.

Jobs also offered meaning to his employees. It is known that Apple’s employees worked hard on visionary projects, striving to meet targets and to satisfy their leader’s maniacal attention to detail. Jobs infused them with a sense of mission. Apple had to leave a mark in the world of computing, improve people’s lives, be bold and, of course, “think different.”

Experts and academics in business schools have often dismissed this approach as the outcome of the unique personality of Steve Jobs. A kind of “guru process,” as a colleague once told me. Nothing to be considered as a role model. The reason is that institutional management is rooted into analytics, engineering, and the social sciences. Jobs had no disdain for these, but meaning is connected to other, more slippery territories: culture and the humanities, which unfortunately business schools hardly master. During an interview, Jobs stated that “The only problem with Microsoft is that they absolutely just have no taste. I mean that in the big way. [...] They don’t bring much culture into their product. Proportionally spaced fonts come from typesetting and beautiful books.” And in 2010, during his keynote for the launch of the iPad, he said, “The reason we’ve been able to create products like this is because we’ve tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.”

Institutional management is scared by culture and the humanities. They are not measurable and cannot be codified in processes. They depend on the person. What Jobs taught us is that managers are people before being managers. They have a personal vision of the world, painstakingly developed through years of research and exploration in life. Why should manager forget about culture? No method, tools and process can give you the capability to create meaning, to create visions. Only your personal culture, that no one can imitate, can.

Jobs showed that business and culture are not in contradiction, but rather they sustain each other. Isn’t it time to consider this as a model instead of an anomaly? Can’t Jobs become institutional and “management by meaning” become a core chapter in the future textbooks of management?

 

image source: steveadobe, accessed 5th Oct ’12

Apple’s 23rd Oct – iPad Mini Event

 

 

1) iBooks Update

  • iCloud integration
  • FB / Twitter integration
  • style influenced by culture (e.g. Jap books flip the opposite way)

2) MacBook Pro 13″ Refresh

  • retina display
  • flash drive

3) Mac Mini Refresh

  • fusion drive – combination of flash + HDD (OS tracks which apps you use the most and put them on flash)

4) iMac Refresh

  • extremely thin now

  • fusion drive – combination of flash + HDD (OS tracks which apps you use the most and put them on flash)

5) iBooks Author Update

6) 4th Gen iPad

  • 2x processor
  • 2x graphics
  • worldwide LTE
  • front camera 720p
  • 2x WiFi speed
  • lightning cable

7) iPad Mini

  • cheaper than iPad 2
  • worldwide LTE
  • not retina display
  • lightning cable

 

image source: ipadminievent, imacrefresh2012, 24th Oct ’12

To iPhone 5 or not to iPhone 5?

I’ve recently managed to get hold of an iPhone 5 myself and having used it personally for a while, I felt that I needed to share to those out there who are still considering / have not decided whether or not they should make the purchase. As usual, I’ll break it down to the key features + what each group segment (depending on what phone you have at the moment) should get.

 

Key Features:

  1. Larger Screen – with the increasing demand for larger screens, you have to admit that iPhone 5 currently stands at the top of the ergonomics community (one of the only phones that you are able to used with 1 hand)
  2. Thinner + Lighter – despite the increase in screen size, you would have expected the weight to increase drastically, but fortunately, not only did it not increase, it decreased significantly (you can definitely feel the difference due to the change to a thinner glass + the use of aluminum instead of purely glass at the back)
  3. Lightning – the new series of Apple’s products utilize a new connector which disregards which direction you plug it in (whoever who invented USB ought to hear this) and is also very much faster than the regular 30 pin thus meaning fast sync
  4. LTE – depending on which server provider you are on, you might or might not have this island-wide, but considering how nobody else is on this network, it is currently blazing fast… until everyone jumps on the bandwagon
  5. Hardware – it is supposedly 2 times faster… but I’m too lazy to go into the details of these numbers so if you want to know why it is irrelevant, please read this post here – Click Here~!
  6. Camera – improved from 5 MP to 8 MP, but then the same thing applies as compared to hardware under a slightly different reasoning so if you are interested to know why MP doesn’t really matter – Click Here~!

 

Drawbacks:

  1. Battery Life – I’ve noticed that battery life (despite claims of it still providing the same no. of hours as the 4S) have dropped a little but I am still able to get through 1 full day with a single charge (and then again, maybe it is because I had location services on the whole time trying PassBook out)
  2. Apps – despite having released for almost 1 mth, a large portion of the apps are still not cuztomised to use the full screen (e.g. Whatsapp, Viber, etc)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Group Segments (Where you stand and whether you should get it.)

If you are not using an iPhone…

then my personal suggestion is to get it (assuming it is time for you to recontract of course). This is because the iPhone ecosystem is unmatched on the whole when compared with any other smartphone’s ecosystem. If you are considering an S3, you can head over here for a more detailed breakdown – Click Here~!. You need to be careful of getting addicted too… because the iPhone experience is something indescribable. I kid you not when both my parents got so hooked onto the iOS system that they don’t even consider shifting to another system (and I DID NOT… I repeat…. DID NOT even try to ‘sell’ the phone’s plus points AT ALL). Right now, my parents are on 2x 4, 1x 4s, 1x iPad 2. The ease of usage and simplicity means that you don’t need to be a genius to use it.

If you are using a 3GS or earlier…

then I have no idea why you are short changing yourself. I am assuming that you are still paying for a mobile plan so why forgo the subsidy that telcos provide and not get a phone? :D Please upgrade ASAP and benefit from the 2 year subsidy the telcos give.

If you are using a 4…

the main concern (other than hardware), is that you do not get certain software features (e.g. turn-by-turn maps aka GPS). The upgrade is still significant and you should consider it as soon as your contract finishes.

If you are using a 4s…

then it gets a little tricky because you still get the full software benefits. If either of these points are crucial for you:

  • screen size
  • weight
  • sync speed
  • LTE
  • hardware
  • camera

then you should pick a 5 up. For me, it has always only been touch-screen (not screen size), and you won’t benefit entirely from the increased screen size because as mentioned earlier, many apps having jumped on yet. I won’t recommend you to upgrade from a 4S to a 5 especially since your contract won’t be available for upgrading yet and you might need to pay a huge penalty just to do so.

 

image source: panoramiciphone5, acessed 16th Oct ’12

“On Entrepreneurship, Steve Jobs, and Unashamedly Loving Your Work”

by Jeff Stibel, Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., author, (source), accessed 5th Oct ’12

 

The world lost a great inventor and entrepreneur when it lost Steve Jobs. He left a legacy of simple, elegant designs that demystified technology.

For me, as a fellow entrepreneur, Steve Jobs left a legacy even more valuable than his design ideals: he set an example for how to run your business to make the most of the time you’re given. He lived and acted with a sense of urgency and an abundance of passion.

My friend Erik Calonius had the pleasure of interviewing Jobs early in his career and reminded me of a quote that defined him throughout his life:

“For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

When you think that every day could be your last, you start thinking about the things that are really important to you. Of course, for almost everyone, there is an automatic response: family, friends, charity, community all make the top of the list. And indeed, in honor of Steve, I am heading home early today to play with my kids and kiss my wife. Then I plan to enjoy a nice glass of wine while staring out the window for a relaxing reverie.

But after that, I am going back to my second favorite place: work.

There is some irony to this for people who know me: For years, I have done this work-home-work routine each and every day. Even when I have a Board meeting that lasts into the night, I take a break to head back home to see my wife and tuck my kids in — always. And then I go back to work.

We’ve all read a lot about Steve Jobs in the past few days, and the “live every day like it’s your last” sentiment is running high. I think the challenge — and the thing that Jobs was great at — is doing that day after day after day. We all make time for our favorite things after a seismic event — a death, an illness, an earthquake — but it is far more important, albeit more difficult, to do so on a random Tuesday. I think that if Jobs could pick a legacy, it would be to inspire a few more brave souls to make sure that that the things they will do today, both in business and in life, aren’t so far off from what they would do if they knew there were no tomorrow.

That’s the part that, sadly, the majority of Americans miss out on. And nowhere is that more true than at work, where we spend most of our time. For too many, work is a grind instead of a passion, a four-letter word. I’m lucky enough to share Jobs’ absolute passion for work. A good number of my friends and colleagues I know feel the same way — and entrepreneurs absolutely have to, or their businesses will fail. But it is sad to see how many people do not cherish what they do for a living.I’ve written before about having a passion for work — the art of loving what you do. There is a test: You know you’re doing the right thing when you pop out of bed in the morning (before your alarm goes off) because you’re excited to start the day.

Work involves way too much time and energy to not enjoy the process — life is just too short. That message is the simple, elegant design Jobs truly left us.

 

image source: ipodshalfsteve, accessed 5th Oct ’12

“Steve Jobs Solved the Innovator’s Dilemma”

by James Allworth, author, Fellow @ Forum for Growth and Innovation @ Harvard Business School, (source), accessed 5th Oct ’12

In the lead up to today’s release of the Steve Jobs biography, there’s been an increasing stream of news surrounding its subject. As a business researcher, I was particularly interested in this recent article that referenced from his biography a list of Jobs’s favorite books. There’s one business book on this list, and it “deeply influenced” Jobs. That book is The Innovator’s Dilemma by HBS Professor Clay Christensen.

But what’s most interesting to me isn’t that The Innovator’s Dilemma was on that list. It’s that Jobs solved the conundrum.

When describing his period of exile from Apple — when John Sculley took over — Steve Jobsdescribed one fundamental root cause of Apple’s problems. That was to let profitability outweigh passion: “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. The products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything.”

Anyone familiar with Professor Christensen’s work will quickly recognize the same causal mechanism at the heart of the Innovator’s Dilemma: the pursuit of profit. The best professional managers — doing all the right things and following all the best advice — lead their companies all the way to the top of their markets in that pursuit… only to fall straight off the edge of a cliff after getting there.

Which is exactly what had happened to Apple. A string of professional managers had led the company straight off the edge of that cliff. The fall had almost killed the company. It had 90 days working capital on hand when he took over — in other words, Apple was only three months awayfrom bankruptcy.

When he returned, Jobs completely upended the company. There were thousands of layoffs. Scores of products were killed stone dead. He knew the company had to make money to stay alive, but he transitioned the focus of Apple away from profits. Profit was viewed as necessary, but not sufficient, to justify everything Apple did. That attitude resulted in a company that looks entirely different to almost any other modern Fortune 500 company. One striking example: there’s only one person Apple with responsibility for a profit and loss. The CFO. It’s almost the opposite of what is taught in business school. An executive who worked at both Apple and Microsoft described the differences this way: “Microsoft tries to find pockets of unrealized revenue and then figures out what to make. Apple is just the opposite: It thinks of great products, then sells them. Prototypes and demos always come before spreadsheets.”

Similarly, Apple talks a lot about its great people. But make no mistake — they are there only in service of the mission. A headhunter describes it thus: “It is a happy place in that it has true believers. People join and stay because they believe in the mission of the company.” It didn’t matter how great you were, if you couldn’t deliver to that mission — you were out. Jobs’s famous meltdowns upon his return were symptomatic of this. They might have become less frequent in recent years, but if a team couldn’t deliver a great product, they got the treatment. The exec in charge of MobileMe was replaced on the spot, in front of his entire team, after a botched launch. A former Apple product manager described Apple’s attitude like this: “You have the privilege of working for the company that’s making the coolest products in the world. Shut up and do your job, and you might get to stay.”

Everything — the business, the people — are subservient to the mission: building great products. And rather than listening to, or asking their customers what they wanted; Apple would solve problems customers didn’t know they had with products they didn’t even realize they wanted.

By taking this approach, Apple bent all the rules of disruption. 
To disrupt yourself, for example, Professor Christensen’s research would typically prescribe setting up a separate company that eventually goes on to defeat the parent. It’s incredibly hard to do this successfully; Dayton Dry Goods pulled it off with Target. IBM managed to do it with the transition from mainframes to PCs, by firewalling the businesses in entirely different geographies. Either way, the number of companies that have successfully managed to do it is a very, very short list. And yet Apple’s doing it to itself right now with the utmost of ease. Here’s new CEO Tim Cook, on the iPad disrupting the Mac business: “Yes, I think there is some cannibalization… the iPad team works on making their product the best. Same with the Mac team.” It’s almost unheard of to be able to manage disruption like this.

They can do it because Apple hasn’t optimized its organization to maximize profit. Instead, it has made the creation of value for customers its priority. When you do this, the fear of cannibalization or disruption of one’s self just melts away. In fact, when your mission is based around creating customer value, around creating great products, cannibalization and disruption aren’t “bad things” to be avoided. They’re things you actually strive for — because they let you improve the outcome for your customer.

When I first learned about the theory of disruption, what amazed me was its predictive power; you could look into the future with impressive clarity. And yet, there was a consistent anomaly. That one dark spot on Professor Christensen’s prescience was always his predictions on Apple. I had the opportunity to talk about it with him subsequently, and I remember him telling me: “There’s just something different about those guys. They’re freaks.” Well, he was right. With the release of Jobs’s biography, we now know for sure why. Jobs was profoundly influenced by the Innovator’s Dilemma — he saw the company he created almost die from it. When he returned to Apple, Jobs was determined to solve it. And he did. That “subtle difference” — of flipping the priorities away from profit and back to great products — took Apple from three months away from bankruptcy, to one of the most valuable and influential companies in the world.

 

image source: crazyonesclothes, accessed 5th Oct ’12

“Steve Jobs Wasn’t (Just) a Leader”

by Gianpiero Petriglieri, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, (source), accessed 5th Oct ’12

 

Steve Job’s passing may be one of those events that our memory swallows whole. Those that punctuate our life stories and we remember from within, as personal experiences. Where we were when we heard the news, what we were doing, with whom. Whether it was an iPhone or iPad we first learned it on. Steve’s death, in that respect, did not just happen to him. It happened to us.

Like many others, I watched my Twitter stream swell up in unison. Everyone talking about him, many expressing surprise about how moved they felt by the news of his passing. In a day and age of resentment towards corporate elites, protests on Wall Street and general mistrust for leaders in every sector, here we all were — mourning a CEOMany have captured lessons from Steve’s life and work already. But what can we learn from our response to his departure?

The paradox is even starker when you consider that he was ruthless, a micromanager who berated subordinates and wanted the last word. He erected a wall of secrecy around Apple’s activities and fired anyone who broke it. He threatened journalists who criticized his products, and mocked the idea of asking customers what they wanted. He did not let go of his job until the very end. He may have been a genius and a charmer, but he was far from the person the leadership books tell you to be. And even the authors of those books are chiming into the global choir singing his praise.

How did that happen? Why did his daily behavior not taint our admiration? Is the shock of his untimely death clouding our judgment, or should we cynically conclude that if you’re extremely successful you can get away with it? Not quite. The reason for much untainted admiration, I suspect, is that we are not mourning a leader or an innovator.

Steve may have led and innovated his whole life but he was, ultimately, an artist. Those behaviors, which we may not condone in a leader, we forgive and even expect of an artist.

He was a creator. Steve’s life, his products, and his company were creations to him. To the extent he could, he strove to shape and control them, and at the same time to make them accessible to the masses. Like, say, Michelangelo his sculptures.

His work was meaningful. That is, full of meaning, for him and for us. Like great works of art, Steve’s creations were acts of personal expression. Everything Apple transudes his passion — blending IT and design, beautiful and useful. At the same time, those creations did not impose his meaning. Like, say, a Picasso, they provoked and invited users to figure out what they meant, and what to do with them.

He was both real and larger than life. While he never pretended, Steve always performed. Like great actors, he was most himself on a stage, in a role. His work was his life. He spoke for and embodied the value of crafting one’s own path, becoming an icon of those elusive cravings of our time — authenticity and passion at work.

He was committed. Steve’s passion for his work bordered on obsession. He strove for perfection and was uncompromising in its pursuit. He suffered years of ostracism, misunderstanding and illness without losing faith in the value of making gorgeous, useful technology. If there was an IT muse, he utterly surrendered to it.

He hated failure, but took it into account. 
There was dropping out of college and being fired from Apple, the iPhone 4 antennas and Apple TV. All were painfully frustrating and yet part of the creative process. There was, most of all, that inevitable failure. Death. Constantly looming for the past few years. He met it not with (a) resignation, but with determination to live and create fully, every day.

It wasn’t about money or fame. Steve benefited financially from his creations and may have well rehearsed his performances, much like a rock star does. But profit and popularity were not the aim. As for the Beatles, U2 or Lady Gaga, they were but a means for bigger and bolder productions.

It wasn’t about him. It was about us. Ultimately, what made Steve’s work so revered is not his passion but ours. He kept doing his thing. We went crazy about it. Solitary as he was, he got the widespread need for voice, connection and meaning of our times. He stood for and offered us technology we could make our own — and make ourselves through. We could all be artists on the canvas he created.

Like true artists, great leaders are instruments of a purpose and community. Not the other way around. We grieve them deeply because they connect us to ourselves, and once they’re gone we fear that connection lost. Wherever he is, I like to think Steve would chuckle reading the columns that distill his leadership formula, including this one. The great iconoclast and inventor of desktop icons turned into an icon himself. The man who reviled emulation transfigured into a series of bullet points. To honor his memory we should vow to never imitate him. He’d rather want us to be inspired.

 

image source: stevepaintingleader, accessed 5th Oct ’12

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