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What Would Steve Do? Three Lessons

Steve Jobs was a fascinating person. Complicated. Perfectionist. Rebel. Irritating. Childish. Genius. Uncompromising.

One of my favorite YouTube videos of all time is The Crazy Ones.

His narration ends with the line – “Because the ones that are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

What are the lessons in innovation we can learn from him?

Powerful stories. This is the first lesson I will take from Jobs. We remember stories, tell our history in stories, and can change health by telling the right stories.

His graduation address to Stanford University is a classic. Through three stories from his life he connects the dots among love and loss, and death.

Roone Arledge, the creator of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, figured out that people would watch any crazy athletic event, even ones they did not understand, if he first told the stories of the athletes that competed. In other words, if he got you to care about the people through their story, he could make you watch. This approach revolutionized sports journalism and is in use today on almost every TV reality and news show.

Stories are “sticky,” according to Chip and Dan Heath. Their book, Made to Stick, tells how stories of our discoveries, successes, learnings and experiences are the best way to communicate.

Jobs also understood the issue of simplicity. His Buddhist studies critically influenced his focus on simple, beautiful, and intuitive solutions. He knew if you have to read an instruction book, you will not use the solution. This is also Nike’s approach – edit to amplify. Simplicity from complexity – simple words, simple solutions, and focus. Just do it. These are critical ingredients that Jobs understood.

Lastly, his lesson was the beauty of design. It is not just the technology that matters: equally important is the appearance, the feel of the device. He persevered until the look was what he demanded – from the box the device was put in, to the store it was sold in. Excellence was his standard. Technological improvement is never the goal: it is how we can make the experience better.