Looking back at Steve Jobs’ legacy

One of the biggest stories of 2011 was the death of Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO and innovator. In this post, Zintro experts take a look back at Steve Jobs’ legacy, Apple, and innovation.

John Tuttle, a CEO and clean tech expert, believes that the root of Steve Jobs’ legacy is in thought innovation, specifically where a unique combination of technology, a product that uses the technology and a market to deliver the product was created. “Jobs provided us with a novel way of thinking about how to integrate what appeared too many to be disparate components of the economy, such as music and computing. But, in some ways, Jobs was just manifesting what we had seen on TV for decades from the likes of Gene Roddenberry: the consolidation of multiple functions into a single device,” says Tuttle.

Tuttle wonders about Apple continuing its successful trend without Steve Jobs. “It is highly conceivable that Apple will be successful because many minds, both young and old, conceived the products that come out of Apple. But, the exact leadership necessary to turn Apple into a continuous profitable venture may be difficult to replicate,” he says. “If new leadership attempts to mimic and copy Steve Jobs too closely, then it will appear inauthentic. If, on the other hand, it deviates too far from the present successful course, then loyalists will bail, especially if a new brand comes along that can fill the void.” Tuttle says that we live in an age of innovation, and innovation is a force. “Innovation comes from turning a problem or void on its side and creating an opportunity,” he says.

Joseph DeFina, a branding and sales expert, says that Steve Jobs represented hope. “Steve Jobs’ innovative mind have represented hope, excitement, and anticipation to consumers everywhere, especially during a period of time that is filled with massive uncertainty and hesitation,” he says. “The same consumers that had VCRs blinking 12 o’clock for years were able to utilize a personal device to complete complex-but-made-simple tasks like managing a database of contacts, peer-to-peer communication, mapping and directions, applications, setting up e-mail accounts, and so on a device called the iPhone. Age being no barrier: once technologically challenged senior citizens are now surfing the net on their iPhones or texting the day’s pictures to their grandkids.”

Len Given, an expert in strategic account management, says that innovation requires the right environment to flourish. “Even though there may be great innovators in an organization, it can be stifled if management punishes failure and expresses displeasure at thinking outside the box. In the case of Apple and Steve Jobs, the reverse was true. Steve was a tyrant of sorts, but a protector of the great performers on his projects. He also embodied the concept that success born of risks often produces failure and looking beyond the obvious will surface innovative concepts,” he says.

Michael Clingan, a strategic sales expert, says that Jobs was considered the ultimate salesman. “In sales, you follow either a consultative or a transactional approach. Jobs took neither. He wasn’t a consultative salesperson, as he dismissed any notion that customers knew what they wanted or could even verbalize their unmet needs. He also wasn’t a transactional salesperson, though he sold in retail, the classic transactional setting, as he did little to attract comparison shoppers. Apple Store retail purchase experiences were often emotional events, but they are only the first high point in what is designed to be a series of peak ownership experiences,” Clingan says

Clingan thinks Jobs innovated to create and sell products in a new way by:

  • Rethinking markets from a far deeper and broader perspective than either the entrenched players, who were busy following their incremental and reasonable three year plans, or customers, who’d been conditioned to believe technology always included a learning curve.
  • Demanding insanely great customer-back design thinking, materials choices, and even supply chain management with iterations all the way to product introduction.
  • Creating a simple and compelling user story, something beyond a cognitive solution, something visceral and emotionally resonant.

“What Jobs accomplished was to recast the specs and price considerations of technology buyers as false choices. Every product Apple launched introduced a whole new way of creating and interacting with media or information,” Clingan says.

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