In an article titled “The Secret of Steve”, Kevin Ashton explains how Steve Jobs thought through problems and came up with solutions that most other people were oblivious to — how, in fact, most other people were oblivious to the problems.
Ashton describes the evolution from plain old cell phones to smart phones:
“For several years I was a member of the research advisory board of a company that made cell phones. Every year it gave me its latest phone. I found each one harder to use than the last… This company thought smart phones were phones, only smarter. They had made some of the first cell phones which, of course had buttons on them. These had been successful. As they added smarts they added buttons. A good phone made a good phone call. The smart stuff was a bonus.”
Steve Jobs saw things differently. Here’s how Jobs announced the iPhone in 2007:
“The most advanced phones are called smart phones. They are definitely a little smarter, but they actually are harder to use. They all have these keyboards that are there whether you need them or not. How do you solve this? We solved it in computers 20 years ago. We solved it with a screen that could display anything. What we’re going to do is get rid of all these buttons and just make a giant screen. We don’t want to carry around a mouse. We’re going to use a stylus. No. You have to get them and put them away, and you lose them. We’re going to use our fingers.”
As Kevin Ashton explains, Jobs was always asking the question “Why doesn’t it work?”
Problem: Smarter phones are harder to use because they have permanent keyboards. Solution: A big screen and a pointer. Problem: What kind of pointer? Solution: A mouse. Problem: We don’t want to carry a mouse around. Solution: A stylus. Problem: A stylus might get lost. Solution: Use our fingers.
Sales + Customers = Nothing Broken is the formula for corporate cyanide. Most big companies that die kill themselves drinking it. Complacency is an enemy… No matter what the sales, no matter what the customer satisfaction, there is always something to fix. Asking, “Why doesn’t it work?” is creation’s inhalation. Answering is breathing out. Innovation becomes suffocation without it.
A good salesman sells everybody. A great salesman sells everybody but himself. What made Steve Jobs think different was not genius, passion, or vision. It was his refusal to believe sales and customers meant nothing was broken... The secret of Steve was that he was never satisfied. He devoted his life to asking, “Why doesn’t it work?” and, “What should I change to make it work?”