What can your business learn from Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs, who died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer, is hailed as the person who saved Apple, who made it cool and who made ease of use essential to technology. These same features are now sought after in many business sectors. When the rest of the business world moves in a given direction, it is a safe bet that there is good reason for all professions to move in the same direction.

This month’s issue of Fast Company contains an article on what the late Steve Jobs can teach us, titled, appropriately enough, "What Steve Jobs Can Still Teach Us." It is no accident that the article appears in an issue devoted to design, and the importance of design in our modern economy. The issue quotes Sohrab Vossoughi, President of ZIBA Designs, saying “This is our moment. We have made every other factor of American business as efficient as possible. Now it’s about effectiveness. And this is where design comes in.”

Mr. Vossoughi spoke about all businesses when he referred to the efficiency of American business. Progress, however slow, seems to be happening. This article examines whether there is a role for design in the new normal. The author refers to Jobs 2.0, after return to Apple, as a “user-experience savant.” Here’s the full description:

"... the years away reportedly helped him begin ceding more responsibilities to others. He became less enamored of tech for tech's sake. He blossomed into a user-experience savant. A reporter who asked Jobs about the market research that went into the iPad was famously told, "None. It's not the consumers' job to know what they want." It's not that Jobs doesn't think like a consumer--he just thinks like one standing in the near future, not in the recent past. He is a focus group of one, the ideal Apple customer, two years out. As he told Inc. magazine in 1989, "You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."

Lawyers are notorious for not being “user friendly”. Is there a lawyer in private practice who could be described as a “user-experience savant” in the same manner Jobs is? I try to believe I am that lawyer, but it is impossible to be available, or “user friendly” at all times.

Is your business moving in this direction? Can you use technology to create an easily customized display showing real time spend versus a budget, or work progress versus plan design. Do we need to eliminate the impersonal email and use a collaborative space for planning and strategizing, and bundle it all in an easy to use, easy to understand package, that is catchy and cool?

Lets get together and strategize so your business, and you, are a success. A little business planning goes a long way!

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