Steve Jobs is one of the greatest influences on the global ICT industry. Many books have been written about this inspirational character. I would like to devote this article to explore some of the similarities I noted between him and my organization, BoardPAC, when reading certain books on Steve Jobs.
I have been working at BoardPAC for nearly a decade and I am proud to see some of the charisma of this wonderful innovator in my own workplace. Thus, I would like to highlight 10 similarities I noted.
1- “Experts are clueless”
Let’s look some of the things several early IT experts said which led Jobs to say, “Experts are clueless”.
At BoardPAC, we listen to what experts say, but we always take decisions based on our heart. Most of the time, they are totally opposite to the industry standards or the advice of experts.
2- Customers cannot tell you what they want.
BoardPAC receives many inquiries from clients on the Board paper automation system, and after that, if we demonstrate our solution to them, they are surprised about how we have been able to develop this type of an innovative solution to address their problems and improve the productivity of their organization.
3- The action is on the next curve
If you truly want to be an innovator, you have to jump curves. “You don’t do things 10% better; you do things 10 times better”
Think of how the iPod replaced the Walkman. Or how the iPhone replaced the Blackberry. Or how the iPad replaced… What did we even use before the iPad?
Great innovation occurs when entrepreneurs try to jump the curve. This is the concept we at BoardPAC are following in our endeavour of becoming the first unicorn company in Sri Lanka in five years’ time.
4- The biggest challenges can be converted into the biggest opportunities
When IBM first came into the computer business, Apple published this advertisement welcoming them to the computer business,
After that, Jobs told his staff that he wanted to defeat IBM, that he wanted to send them back into their typewriter business. IBM’s advent into the computer industry was one of the biggest challenges for Apple, but it inspired them to work towards their massive accomplishments we can witness today. This is a common scenario for the BoardPAC leadership as well.
5- Design counts
Don’t let people tell you design doesn’t count. It does!
In a world where everyone is talking about price, design still counts. For many people, design is the product. We at BoardPAC always care about our product design. It’s one of the best UI products in the board automation domain and we continue to improve this design.
6- Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence
When the iPhone first came out, third party apps were not permitted. Security was a major issue, so was the quality of experience, etc. In essence, Apple said: ‘We’re doing this for your own good’.
“Our innovative approach, using Web 2.0=based standards, lets developers create amazing new applications while keeping the iPhone secure and reliable.”
Steve Job, June 11,2007
One year later, Apple reversed its position completely and opened up the iPhone for developers. How do you think that turned out for them?
“Apple Executives to Showcase MAC OS X Leopard and OS X iPhone Development platforms at WWDC 2008 Keynote”
Apple Press release, May 2008
So, in 2007, when Steve Jobs said that the iPhone had to be closed for it to be a secure and safe phone, the other IT experts followed suit and commended this decision. Ironically, 12 months later, when Jobs decided to open the iPhone for developers, what was the response of the same experts? Everyone agreed.
BoardPAC is also very flexible. We take and change drastic decisions from time to time according to the environment & market changes. During the current COVID 19 situation, we totally changed our strategy to suit this pandemic situation and it has been very successful.
The Lesson is be flexible when needed.
7- VALUE is not equal to PRICE
Macbook, iPhone, iPod — none of these products are the cheapest but they hold the highest value.
An item may cost less, but what is its value? What about factors such as user friendliness, increased productivity, and lower support cost? How much are these premiums worth to the customer?
Companies like Apple and BoardPAC envisage customers paying a high price for high quality.
8- A players (good people) hire A+ players (better people)
Usually, when a company is small, it’s determined to hire only A players. But as the company grows, fear and politics set in. Some leaders fear that a new employee will be better than they are. They may even show them up or take their job. This is called ‘Bozo Explosion’ in the business world.
In 1982, Steve Jobs asked John Sculley, the president of Pepsi at the time, to become Apple’s Chief Executive Officer. Because Apple wasn’t the well-known company it is today, Sculley was hesitant to accept. So, he played hard-to-get. Jobs, not usually one to beg, was finally able to convince the successful Pepsi exec to come to Apple by asking the now-famous question:
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”
At BoardPAC too, we continue to search for and hire A+ players in the field. If you think you are an A+ player, please don’t hesitate to contact us and join our family.
9- Marketing = unique value
Create something that is unique and truly valuable. BoardPAC is both.
Some things need to be believed to be seen (One of the most valuable lessons I have learnt through being with BoardPAC).
Usually we hear this in the opposite way; that in order for you to believe something, you have to see it. In Steve Jobs’ words: “If you don’t believe, it’ll never happen. If you wait for proof, it’ll never happen. If you wait for customer validation, it will never happen.” The reason why BoardPAC is successful is that at the core, 100 people, starting with Lakmini Wijesundera, believed in BoardPAC. And because we believed in BoardPAC, we made it real.”
Author: Buddhika Abeygooneratne
Co-Author: Sucheru Dissanayake