Steve Jobs, inspiration, and perspiration
But the idea, so common in this week’s media coverage, that Jobs was an inspired savant who succeeded by taking big risks on personal hunches, is way off the mark. Rather than worship at the altar of inspiration and “going with your gut,” the rest of us should use this moment to consider the fundamental strategies that drove Apple’s success.
The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.
But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.
I think most companies miss both parts of this.
Most companies believe they can think their way to the great ideas. You can’t. They come from your gut, your subconscious, in the shower, while running, in chance encounters, and so on.
But great ideas aren’t enough. Discipline and hard work and relentless pushing against boundaries and endless iterations are part of what’s required, too.
Perspiration without inspiration is meaningless drudgery.
Inspiration without perspiration is mere daydreaming.
We need both.
It’s the old song about left brain and right brain, ego and essence, masculine and feminine, yin and yang.
It only works when you have both.
You can’t make a child without the masculine and the feminine coming together.
That’s the lesson of Apple and Steve Jobs.