The University of Chicago Booth School of Business Business Policy 42002 – 81 Steve Jobs Book Report Submitted by: Suntan Shah “l pledge to my honor that I have not violated the Honor Code during this assignment. ‘ Steve Jobs was the embodiment of Apple in ways few founders and leaders ever are, and through his sheer power of personality was able to imbue his essence throughout not only Apple’s products and employees, but also to his customers.
The Apple story is thus often linked to Jobs, and he is credited almost entirely with the success of Apple, while, in mainstream circles at least, even a pass for Apple’s past strategic blunders. In reality though, as shown in Caisson’s book, both the ups and downs that Apple has gone through can be attributed to Jobs. The rise of Apple in the early sass’s was a product of great visionary thinking on the parts of the 2 Stave’s and also Jobs’ magnetic personality, which made it impossible for people to resist his sales pitch, much in the way the early Apple computers and especially the Mac, were irresistible to people who saw it.
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The products differed from Jobs in one significant way though, and that was while Jobs was an avatar for the hippie, ere-willed, do as you please ethos, the computers he created were closed systems which in many ways went counter that entire philosophy. In Caisson’s telling of the Steve Jobs story, he paints Jobs as a maniacal genius, who cared little for what others thought in his drive to pursue what he saw as perfection; someone who was able to will things into being through a mystical, Zen-like, reality distortion field.
In turn, when creating his products, Jobs was not intent on allowing his consumers to exercise similar powers, but instead manipulated them into Jobs controlled user experience, at the same mime enthralling them into a ‘consumer reality distortion’ field which made them feel they were actually the revolutionaries and not just Jobs’ followers.
The ‘1984’ ad is a perfect example of the cognitive dissonance that they were able to create consumer’s minds by positioning Apple as the tool for ‘hacker’ culture against MOM, when in fact Apple provided a closed system that limited one’s control and IBM allowed almost free rein for people to tinker and create new disruptive technologies like Jobs himself. While upon Jobs’ return to Apple he was able to achieve some success with the new line of Mac amputees, it was not really until the pod that the Apple turnaround really began.
The pod in fact did offer consumers the ability to free themselves from the shackles of control exerted by the existing music industry, and this relative freedom offered coincided with Jobs’ slightly more mature and humbled persona, which while still controlling, opened up more control to others. While Jobs did tone down a bit when returning to Apple, the strategy he followed, especially with the phone, was in fact similar to the closed system approach he took the first time around. Many would expect that given the failure of the strategy the first time around, one would look to learn and modify going forward.
It turns out that this may not necessarily be the right thing to do, despite what is taught In strategy classes. Jobs was confident that his previous strategy of creating and end-to-end consumer experience was correct and doubled down on this strategy the second time around. While he did make some exceptions to the rule, most notably with the Passport, which against Jobs’ initial decrees was created and served to pen up the phone platform much more than was previously intended, for the most part the closed system prevailed and one could say even strengthened with the upcoming cloud strategy. It remains to be seen if this strategy will continue working into the future as competitors develop more open systems – I. E. Android, Amazon Cloud) It is interesting to note that Jobs was not necessarily a great strategist when he started Apple computer and badly lost his battle against Microsoft due to the closed system path he went down. It was not until his time at Paxar, when he was not in a position to intro the actual product that he seemed to be able to take a step back and develop the ability to craft strategic directions that would enable him to resurrect Apple.
Being a Visionary, which Jobs no doubt was, and being a great strategic thinker and leader, are two very different things, which often are conflated with each other. It is interesting that Paxar, which was largely other people’s vision, was where Jobs was able to learn how to think as a strategist and become a greater leader. The leadership style of Jobs has always been one steeped in manipulation, where he is able to get people to o things through sheer power of will along with micro-management.
These are not necessarily the archetype of a great leader we are taught, but there have been many cases of leaders in the past who were able to wear such a persona well enough for it to work. What was most surprising and somewhat disturbing throughout the book was that people who worked for Jobs, were for the most part willing and able to put up with this style of leadership. It seems almost as if Jobs’ God Complex was justified, and that he did indeed have powers to influence and control people’s minds and reality.
Steve Jobs will undoubtedly and deservedly go into history as one his generation’s greatest thinkers and businessmen. Through the god-like persona that has been created around him, he will also continue to get credit for many of the inventions his team and the industry as a whole. While no one who has read the biography would reasonably argue that Jobs was a saint, it does seem that he possessed super-human powers in the way his mind worked and in the way he was able to manage people, which is a skill that cannot be taught (except maybe by some Indian Yogi).