Lessons from the Successes of Steve Jobs: Focus, Focus Focus

Nov 20, 2009

Does the pressure of business get to you? Do you know how to execute strategy? Do you fear the possibility of ever losing what you’ve worked hard to build? If you find yourself in need of some advice or inspiration, look to the career of the CEO of the Decade, Steve Jobs. As a young founder of Apple, Jobs lost the position when he was unseated, then asked to return to his company to lead one of the most dramatic turn-arounds in business history.

What can we learn from his dramatic recovery, and how solidly Apple has turned out successes through four different industries (Music, Movies, Cell Phones and Computing)?

A Dramatic Turn-Around that Speaks to Today’s Climate

For businesses who are currently navigating the global economic crisis, an example like Apple’s last decade of performance offers not only inspiration and hope, but great insight for cash-strapped organizations hoping to not only hold on but eventually thrive. In 2000, Apple was worth only $5 Billion and facing possible bankruptcy. Coming into 2010 they’re worth $170 billion, produce the leading mp3 player, the most popular mobile phone and have transformed all of the industries in which they do business. So, what did Jobs do when he took back the helm?

Steve’s Three Things: How Focusing on the Basics Gave Apple their Foundation

Humility

When Jobs came back on board at Apple, the company was not poised to launch the huge successes that have become so iconic to their brand in the last decade, like the iPod. The company was facing possible bankruptcy and had lost consumer confidence. Steve Jobs shocked many when he decided to turn to competitor Microsoft for help.

Such a move, especially for a personality not known for humility, what a bold move, but displayed Jobs’ fierce dedication to his company’s success, over his image. As leaders, owners and managers, our humility can greatly impact and inspire our organizations.

Simplicity

Next, Jobs dramatically paired down Apple’s product line from a broader range, to just four different computers. Doing this allowed the company to focus on creating four excellent tools for home and business, and also saved the company money by eliminating projects that didn’t contribute to the new vision Jobs had brought when he took back control. With this new focus, Apple created the iMac: an all-in-one solution that generating sales for future investments.

Is your organization possibly wasting resources on projects or initiatives that aren’t in line with achieving your vision? Are there areas in which you could re-align resources towards sources that will better help you reach your goals?

People

As soon as Jobs came back on board, he assembled a stellar management team- many of whom had worked with him at his previous company. As a testament to the quality and fit of this brain-trust, nearly all of them have stayed on board throughout this decade of achievement.

Having the right people in place within your organization is one of the most powerful elements to executing your corporate strategy. When talented, committed personnel are given the authority and ownership to guide initiatives toward success, you can take a great deal of chance out of whether your strategy will succeed.

One More Thing

As driven as Steve Jobs is toward success, and as wealthy as he has become as a result, you may be surprised to learn that his motivations aren’t to make a ton of money. As told by some of his closest comrades, instead of being inspired by monetary success, Jobs is driven by his intense, abiding and passionate love for his company.

Those close to him can truly trust that he would to anything to see Apple succeed, and as those who have weathered the ups and downs and surprises brought by running a business know, sometimes that’s what pulls the company through.

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