Jobs’ videos demonstrate how to run a 21st century organization

[Crossposted at SpreadingScience]

He sets up what was wrong with Apple before 1997.

“The total is less than the sum of the parts.” Things had to be restructured. The customer was being led to the altar of tech instead of the other way around. Great engineering, bad management. Focused on the tactics, not on the strategy. Technology did not sell things; what technology could do to help the user is what sold things.

Then he lays out what focussing really is – not saying yes but saying no. And you have to know how to deal with pissed off people.

What happens next is exceptional and simply amazing to see. We are used to almost sociopathic behavior from CEOs. Here we see what a true leader can accomplish, one who can engender the fanatical enthusiasm that Jobs can.

Jobs has a reputation for anger and for being a jerk. But all of us who have spoken in front of a large crowd have had worries about dealing with an angry questioner. Here we have the worst possible one: someone who seems to attack the speaker personally.

But Jobs demonstrates the straightforward approach that makes the Reality Distortion Field such a potent force.

He takes some time – a good 30 seconds before he had figured out his answer – collects his thoughts and pulls back from the exact question to give a much deeper and more important answer to the question.

He speaks extemporaneously for the next 4 minutes, doing many amazing things – putting people at ease, providing background and actually giving away the farm for what Apple will do over the next 15 years.

How many CEOs could have done what Steve demonstrates here? He accomplishes so much in those 4 minutes, all without any real missteps.

It is like a primer for 21st century leaders.

He recognizes the anger out there, recognizes that it is legitimate and wants the audience to recognize that he has not ignored this anger.

“People like this gentlemen are right.” Wow. Admitting that critics are right is one of the hardest things for anyone to acknowledge, much less admit in front of hundreds.

His approach not only defuses a lot of tension – you can almost hear the gasps from the audience when the question is asked – but he provides a huge amount of insight.

He is not ‘putting a bullet’ in these technologies for a whim or because they are bad. They simply do not fit into the strategy he brought to Apple.

They may be great tactics but not for the strategy that Apple will  use.

He shows humility, acknowledging that he has made mistakes in the past. But he does have a purpose, a strategy that guides his decisions.

And then the amazing thing, he tells the world what Apple will now do – something we recognize Apple actually did. He gives away Apple’s great strategic secret. Instead of hiding it like every other 20th century company, he gives it away for free! (at about 2:25).

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it.

What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer? Not starting with ‘Let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and how are we going to market that’.

He knew then what the strategy would be. And he knew that no other company could execute this strategy, even if they knew what it was.

His strategy is what all 21st century companies have and why the copy cats can not win. They maintain focus on the customer’s needs, not the corporation’s.

Every thing Apple has done since 1997 has been a demonstration of this. Tech specs are not as important as keeping the customer delighted. 20th century organizations focus on tech first. Apple focused on the user.

Thus we had the iMac, the iPod, the Macbook Air, the iPhone, the iPad – each using technology to fulfill what the customer needed.

21st century organizations focus on making the customer’s life better, easier and more useful.

That is why most tablet makers are falling by the wayside. Or smart phone makers. Or laptop makers.

Steve Jobs answered the question of philanthropy back in 1985

Steve Jobs’ 1985 response to Andrew Ross Sorkin’s crass questioning of charity
[Via MacDailyNews]

“I’ve appreciated receiving a number of emails from readers who agreed with my post yesterday rebutting Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “post” on Steve Jobs’ supposed lack of given,” Eric Jackson writes for Forbes. “One reader pointed out that Jobs had really directly responded to these points in a 1985 Playboy Interview.”


Here is how he responded to a question about what he did regarding charity:

That’s a part of my life that I like to keep private. When I have some time, I’m going to start a public foundation. I do some things privately now.

Why creating a public spectacle is a question people need to answer for themselves. Jobs said he does those things privately. Just as stated in Matthew 6:2.

He states pretty much what any normal person would. Charity should be a private affair and there is something a little seemly to me seeing billionaires donate money so their name can be on a university building.

I’d expect Jobs to have done his giving privately. Such as the speculation that the private donation of $150 million to a cancer center came from him. But since it was given anonymously, no one knows for sure.

Perhaps now that he has the time, he will start that public foundation.

Is HP selling some more TouchPads to mend fences with suppliers?

carwreckby Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden

Why would HP make more TouchPads to sell at a loss?
[Via Brainstorm Tech: Technology blogs, news and analysis from Fortune Magazine » Apple 2.0]

No, they don’t plan to produce “one last run” in order to make it up in volume

TouchPads quickly sold out at $99. Source: HP

Can you spot the dissemblance in the announcement posted Monday on Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) The Next Bench blog?

Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware, we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand. We don’t know exactly when these units will be available or how many we’ll get, and we can’t promise we’ll have enough for everyone. We do know that it will be at least a few weeks before you can purchase.

That’s right. It’s there in the first sentence. HP management has made some monumental blunders lately, but it knows better than to sell product at a loss just to “meet unfulfilled demand.”

There may be a lot of reasons — although as an Apple (AAPL) iPad owner I can’t think of any good ones — to buy a $499 orphaned device when its price suddenly drops to $99.


Digitimes reported that the reason was that HP had contracts with its suppliers who had already stockpiled enough parts for 100,000 tablets. I would expect that those contracts are designed so that the suppliers do not have to eat the entire cost.

So, to recoup what HP may owe its suppliers for creating the inventory that HP pulled the pug on, HP will have them make one more run of perhaps 100,000 tablets.

Quite an expensive decision to make so precipitously. HP must have run the numbers and seen a huge cliff ahead if it did not put on the brakes.

Of course, it essentially totaled the car, as HP now moves out of the PC business.

I’m not sure this tablet could give the iPad a cold, much less kill it

elephantby digitalART2

Android 3.1 tablet, $700 HTC Jetstream, comes to AT&T next week

[Via Ars Technica]

The first HTC tablet to market running Android 3.1 will be the HTC Jetstream, HTC and AT&T announced today. Landing in stores next week, the 10-inch tablet will be able to use AT&T’s 4G LTE network at launch, and while its specs are impressive, the form factor and price are less so.

The Jetstream has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 10-inch 1280×768 resolution screen, an 8-megapixel camera on the back, and a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front. The 32GB onboard storage can be supplemented by 32GB more via microSD, and the Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system will be skinned with HTC’s Sense.

However, the body of the Jetstream is unimpressive-sounding: it measures over half an inch thick (0.51 inches, to be exact), and weighs 1.56 pounds, just an ounce less than the HP TouchPad and a few more than the iPad 2. No WiFi version of the tablet has been announced, so there’s only the 4G LTE version, which is priced at $699.99 with a two-year contract.


Yep, $700 with a two year contract costing up to $35 a month. $850 without one. And nothing about battery life.

The Android tablets continue to have a problem with WiFi-only models. as in there is no WiFi-only model of this tablet. It seems that this is part of Google’s licensing of Android.

Apple lets you buy a WiFi-only iPad for $500 that never ties you to any phone company and its data plan. $200 cheaper. Yes, less memory but as we will be spending a lot of time in the cloud shortly, having access to 64Gb of memory – as the HTC tablet does – may simply be adding an unneeded expense..

And if you want a 32 Gb iPad with the ability to connect to a cell carrier, it only costs $730 without a contract, $120 cheaper than the equivalent HTC! And the iPad allows you to get data on a month to month plan without committing to a 2 year plan.

So, for $700, you are committed to a 2 year data plan at a carrier. For $20 more you can get a similar iPad – WiFi and cell – without the 2 year commitment.

Just what are they thinking? 4G LTE is not worth it right now. They are attacking the elephant by copying its ear. That simply will not be very effective.

When was the last time the government tried to stop a mega-merger like ATT/T-Mobile?

US government files antitrust suit to block AT&T purchase of T-Mobile
[Via AppleInsider]

AT&T’s planned purchase of carrier T-Mobile hit a snag on Wednesday when the U.S. government filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the proposed deal, saying it would hurt competition in the American wireless industry.


Usually these sorts of mergers are just rubber stamped. There must be a lot of distrust about ATT claims for this merger.

The fact that ATT claimed that the merger would help competition might have been part of that. I wonder how many jobs ATT is planning on terminating if the deal goes through?

I’m sure this will all be negotiated out. T-Moble wants to be bought so I expect this to work its way out to ATT’s benefit.

They are treating mental illness with nicotine, not cigarettes

Treating mental illness with cigarettes
[Via Boing Boing]

While nationally, only about 20% of Americans smoke, 80% of schizophrenic Americans smoke. That’s interesting, but it’s not the most interesting part. Apparently, there’s some evidence that those people with schizophrenia are using tobacco as a form of self medication.

At the Risk Science Blog, Mark Stewart looks at the weird dilemma people with schizophrenia are faced with when it comes to smoking:

Schizophrenics often have auditory hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and disorganized thinking. These symptoms are predominantly caused by the inability of the brains of schizophrenics to differentiate, sort, and focus on the multitude of stimuli that go on around us. Think of being in a busy restaurant. Imagine that instead of being able to block out all the noises, conversations, and movements around you, every single piece of sensory information is as important as the interesting things said by the attractive person sitting across from you. The effects of cigarette smoking and nicotine help schizophrenics through increased selective attention.

“They should use other forms of medication,” I hear you say. Great idea, except for the fact that anti-psychotic drugs are very expensive, do not work very well for most people, and have extreme side effects. Tardive dyskinesia is the most common side effect. This makes it very hard for the body to move in normal ways at normal speeds. Also, there are common metabolic side effects that are quite similar to an individual having diabetes. (Just what someone with a severe mental illness needs!) Thus, the cheapness, effectiveness, and availability of cigarettes offer most schizophrenics some succor. Smoking leads to schizophrenics having a 30-60% increased risk of respiratory disorders and heart disease, but is this a risk that is worth taking?


Nicotine is actually a pretty wonderful drug, making one more capable at any tasks. So I am not surprised that it is being used to self-medicate for a variety of mental illnesses.

But cigarettes are not the treatment.

It is the delivery system than causes the problem. So, does putting someone on nicotine patches reduce their mental illnesses? If so, then they should all be prescribed nicotine as a first treatment.

Of course,nicotine is one of the most addictive chemicals around but for a very good reason. It appears to help neural function. I am not sure if there are any proven long term problems with properly dosed nicotine, at least not compared with schizophrenia.

Giving away the ending actually makes people like it better

NCBI ROFL: Spoiler alert! Spoilers actually increase enjoyment of stories.
[Via Discoblog]

Story Spoilers Don’t Spoil Stories.

“The enjoyment of fiction through books, television, and movies may depend, in part, on the psychological experience of suspense. Spoilers give away endings before stories begin, and may thereby diminish suspense and impair enjoyment; indeed, as the term suggests, readers go to considerable lengths to avoid prematurely discovering endings … However, people’s ability to reread stories with undiminished pleasure, and to read stories in which the genre strongly implies the ending, suggests that suspense regarding the outcome may not be critical to enjoyment and may even impair pleasure by distracting attention from a story’s relevant details and aesthetic qualities … We conducted three experiments, each with stories from a different, distinct genre, to test the effects of spoilers on enjoyment.

…Writers use their artistry to make stories interesting, to engage readers, and to surprise them, but we found that giving away these surprises makes readers like stories better. This was true whether the spoiler revealed a twist at the end (e.g., that the condemned man’s daring escape is just a fantasy as the rope snaps taut around his neck) or solved the crime (e.g., Poirot discovers that …


This is certainly non-intuituve. And I would imagine that many writers would hate the fact that their carefully crafted twists were better received if people knew about them before hand.

I’m glad NCBI ROFL read this for me. They wanted $35 for me to rad it myself. see, here is a case where spoilers were not only satisfying but also saved me money.

This may be Jobs’ greatest legacy

How Steve Jobs got the Internet to pay for content
[Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)]

Just about every Internet and print news outlet has paid tribute to Steve Jobs over the past few days, but — a website dedicated to discussion of the sale of digital content — had one of the more interesting plaudits. In a post by Media Guardian’s Charles Arthur, Jobs was rightly given his place in history as the “man who got the Internet to pay for content.”

Arthur reflected on the sad state of affairs in the media biz just ten years ago. He notes that “if you wanted to download some music, your best bet was Napster or one of the filesharing systems such as LimeWire or KaZaA.” For the services that were actually considered legal, there were services like PressPlay and MusicNet requiring US$15 monthly subscriptions for low-quality streams that couldn’t be burned to CD.

Jobs came along with the iPod, and then followed up with the iTunes Music Store. If it hadn’t been for Jobs persuading the music companies in 2003 to license their songs to Apple, the store wouldn’t have happened. As Arthur notes, the music companies figured that Apple was just a tiny company with a minimal market share in the computer business, so they went along for the ride.


Probably the single greatest thing Microsoft did was actually convince people to pay lots of money to own software. Before it was free or only leased.

Apple did the same thing – convincing people that paying for music was the right thing to do. But even more difficult, he had to convince the music companies to allow it.

Without the Reality Distortion Field, he may not have been able to accomplish even that.

That may be one reason why the lost of the Jobsian RDF will hurt Apple. But I would be willing to bet that either Cook has something just as useful – he has negotiated some incredible contracts for Apple –  or that someone with a similar trait arises at Apple.

The first and fourth amendments still hold force in the US

Appeals Court: Arresting Guy For Filming Cops Was A Clear Violation Of Both 1st & 4th Amendments
[Via Techdirt]

We’ve had a lot of stories this year about police arresting people for filming them. It’s become quite a trend. Even worse, a couple weeks ago, we wrote about a police officer in Massachusetts, Michael Sedergren, who is trying to get criminal wiretapping charges brought against a woman who filmed some police officers beating a guy. This officer claims that the woman violated Massachusetts anti-wiretapping law, a common claim from police in such situations.

Segederin may have been better off if he’d waited a couple weeks for an appeals court ruling that came out Friday, because that ruling found that arresting someone for filming the police is a clear violation of both the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. How the case got to this point is a bit complex, but basically, a guy named Simon Glik saw some police arresting someone in Boston, and thought they were using excessive force. He took out his camera phone and began recording. The police saw that and told him to stop taking pictures. He told them he was recording them, and that he’d seen them punch the guy they were arresting. One officer asked him if the phone recorded audio as well and Glik told him it did. At that point, they arrested him, saying that recording audio was a violation of Massachusetts wiretap laws.


Very nice. And, as often is seen with court rulings that are right, the decision is pretty easy to read.

Things like:

Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.”


Indeed, “[t]he freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.”

A very good decision.

The next tech leader will also have to have a Reality Distortion Field

escherby Bert Kaufmann

Steve Jobs And The Next Generation Of Silicon Valley Leaders
[Via Xeni @]

Chris O’Brien, a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News asked: Who will be Silicon Valley’s next Steve Jobs?

He picked out five possible contenders and rejected a sixth.


None of these guys will come close to filling Jobs’ shoes because of the Reality Distortion Field. In all the discussion about Jobs, little has been made of his RDF.

It is called charisma in other places but Jobs had the ability to not only hold your attention but also to make you BELIEVE – in whatever he happened to be talking about.

I mean, he made Ping sound like the most exciting thing ever. Or MobileMe.

The RDF was first named by Bud Tribble in 1981, when Apple was just a few years old. It is not just about hype.  Here is how Tribble described it:

In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules.

He could make people believe they could actually accomplish things they ‘knew’ were not doable. Sure most of the time they were right but every so often, Jobs’ RDF actually got them to produce the impossible.

And it seems that a lot of people wanted to be part of the attempt to do the impossible.

Like the White Queen from Through the looking Glass, Jobs believes in as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast. And he can get others to believe them also.

No one has shown the ability to do that yet. It is the thing I’m going to miss the most. Even watching a keynote online did not completely diminish the RDF.

The right balance of disruptors and stalwarts is needed

[Crossposted at SpreadingScience]

guard londonby Allan Henderson

People are biased against creative ideas, studies find
[Via Physorg]

The next time your great idea at work elicits silence or eye rolls, you might just pity those co-workers. Fresh research indicates they don’t even know what a creative idea looks like and that creativity, hailed as a positive change agent, actually makes people squirm.

“How is it that people say they want creativity but in reality often reject it?” said Jack Goncalo, ILR School assistant professor of organizational behavior and co-author of research to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science. The paper reports on two 2010 experiments at the University of Pennsylvania involving more than 200 people.


Stop Ignoring the Stalwart Worker

There’s an unnoticed population of employees in business today. Strangely enough, they’re also the majority.

The diagram below illustrates the labels that organizations often use (knowingly or unknowingly) to classify their employees. The y-axis focuses on how a professional is measured on meeting the organizational performance criteria that fuel the business engine. The x-axis centers on how the professional fares on meeting the expectations of the human engine. In each of the four corners, we find the Stars, Sinners, Low Performers, and Saints. I’ll go into more detail on the four corners of the diagram in my next post, but for now, I want to bring to your attention those falling in the middle of the diagram — the Stalwarts.

DeLong grid 5-1.jpg

These solid citizens make up the majority of employees in most organizations. The odds are you may find yourself among the Stalwarts at some point in your career, no matter how high-revving your internal drive is. If so, you probably will find yourself questioning your significance.

That’s because, despite the number of Stalwarts in an organization, these good, solid citizens of the organization go largely unnoticed. Few leaders think about the motivation, inclusion, and explicit career management of the solid performers. One Fortune 500 leader said, “I thought that it couldn’t be true that so many workers are systematically ignored through no fault of their own (except for the fact that they may not be politically astute or they don’t draw attention to themselves). But the more I reflected on my own company, the more I realized that I spend all my time worrying about the high performers and assume that everything is OK with everyone else.”

These two things are connected. The stalwarts are what I call the doers – the middle of the bell curve that get things done but do not easily take to new ideas. Innovations are disruptive and these stalwarts hate disruption to their routines and processes.

It is hard to be stalwart – to making sure the important basic parts of an organization get accomplished –  if things are changing all the time. A stalwart is the slow moving but determined tortoise to the disruptive hare. In most cases, a company succeeds because its stalwarts make the ideas of the disruptors a reality.

But that does not mean they like it. As I mentioned, the stalwarts do not take to innovation rapidly. They need to be shown by someone they trust from the community – the thought leaders – that it is worthwhile to adopt a new technology or innovation.

A company of disruptors will not get anything done, because there are not enough stalwarts to realize the ideas. But a company of stalwarts will not be innovative, because there are not enough new ideas being presented.

Companies that are run by disruptors – usually many start-ups – do not understand that the stalwarts must be supported. And companies run by stalwarts – usually the more mature organizations –  do not understand that disruptors must be supported.

The two types often do a poor job communicating their needs. So the first article describes what happens with a company where the stalwarts are in charge – an organization resistant to new ideas.

And the second article discusses a problem when the disruptors tolally run things  – those that actually get things accomplished are ignored.

A truly successful, adaptive and resilient company knows how to support both types, has the right balance of each and has identified thought leaders respected by both groups.

These will be the 21st Century organizations that will succeed.

‘Until the Last Sinew, the Last Synapse Gives Up’

beboxby ressedue

‘Until the Last Sinew, the Last Synapse Gives Up’
[Via Daring Fireball]

Jean-Louis Gassée on Steve Jobs:

For a long time, I’ve seen him as having an animal inside him, the one with the desires, the instinct, the drive. In 1985, that animal threw Steve to the ground. He picked himself up at Pixar — you’d be a captain of industry for doing no more — and NeXT. Then, in 1997, armed with Pixar’s success and Next’s technical prowess, he came back to run Apple and make it really his.

He had learned to ride the animal.


An excellent write-up by someone with almost as storied a career with Apple and beyond as Jobs. In some alternate universe, Jobs never returned to Apple because it bought Gassée’s Be.

He has a strong connection then, as the man who might have run Apple. This is a great read regarding Jobs. This seems todesribe what Jobs is like:

When I first met Steve, in February 1981, he was sitting cross-legged on a credenza in the Apple board room, picking his toes. Since then I’ve watched with glee as he went against received wisdom, causing pundits to have fits at every turn. I picture them as a gaggle of eunuchs standing around the caliph’s bed, braying in high-pitched voice: ‘Steve, you’re doing it wrong!’

For a long time, I’ve seen him as having an animal inside him, the one with the desires, the instinct, the drive. In 1985, that animal threw Steve to the ground. He picked himself up at Pixar — you’d be a captain of industry for doing no more — and NeXT. Then, in 1997, armed with Pixar’s success and Next’s technical prowess, he came back to run Apple and make it really his.

He had learned to ride the animal.

And the Herman Hesse quote at the end is so opportune and revealing.

It would be interesting to see if  Gassée might become more directly connected with Apple and help provide the same sort of vision that Steve has. He does have a similar vibe.



Jobs calendar. It’s funny because it’s true.

Buying WebOS a last gasp for Samsung?

Samsung rumored to buy webOS to compete with Apple’s iOS, Mac OS X
[Via AppleInsider]

In an effort to more directly compete with Apple’s integrated hardware-software approach, Samsung is rumored to be interested in buying webOS from Hewlett-Packard.


And where would Android now fall?

There’d be Apple, making its own handsets with its own OS, Samsung making its own handsets with its own OS and Microsoft/Nokia making  its own handsets with its own OS.

Will Google now simply fold Android into Motorola, making its own handsets with its own OS in direct competition but leaving behind all those who licensed Android? And leave all those licensees hanging in the wind?

Four sets of hardware and integrated software. Which one will have an advantage over the others?

Only Apple and Microsoft have a history of producing both excellent software and great hardware. SNeither Google nor Samsung have been able to demonstrate success at such a integrated device.

And this goes beyond smartphones but also includes tablets and upcoming devices. Only Apple and perhaps Microsoft have any background in creating the ecosystems needed to produce all the novel devices in the pipeline.

Not a great forward path for either Google or Samsung.

A party trick that teaches evolution

scaffoldby magnusfranklin

An Irreducibly Complex Party Trick
[Via The Panda's Thumb]

Wanna demonstrate how evolution and scaffolding can produce irreducibly complex structures at your next ivory tower wine and cheese party or evil atheist conspiracy kitten roast? Just repeat the demonstration see in this clip.

(HT: Nick Matzke.)


One aspect of evolution often talked about is that some current processes seem like they are too complex to have evolved,especially since the intermediary steps would not easily be useful.

But we have examples of so-called scaffolds – part of the process that existed previously and helped the structure/process evolve but then were lost after the structure/process no longer needed them

This video shows what we mean. The final structure is actually almost impossible to produce on its own. but with certain scaffolds, it forms quite easily and is very strong even after the scaffolds are removed.

Same things often happens in evolution.


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