You may or may not be aware, that I have completely lost my mind on the subject material that I am writing about. Steve Jobs running an accounting department? Really? You would think that there is a lot more pressing things to write about, but I have to tell you that I am getting great feedback on my Steve Jobs and accounting articles. I think it’s pretty clear that I am a fan of Jobs, I don’t worship the guy’s achievement like some do, but I believe that we can learn a lot from him. (And) One of the things we can learn is how Jobs used innovation in his companies to do remarkable things.
Personal computers, Macs, Pixar, iPod, iPhone, IPad… are all examples of innovation under Jobs’ leadership. These pieces of technology just didn’t sell, as a lot hope for their products to do, the Apple products changed cultures, economies and the way we communicate.
How He Did It
Jobs would intentionally take an opposite opinion on a topic just to spark debate and discussion. He even had a measuring stick for what “better” means. He said that “the best was 30% better*”. Jobs was never satisfied and constrained. His desire to do more and better was fueled by a rare internal dive.
As he entered into business, he realized that becoming an excellent communicator was going to be a key to his success. He was able to communicate within his company and he was able to communicate to the outside world. Everything was greatly rehearsed and scripted to insure there were no errors, but his communication was simple. When you look back at each of his presentations, he created a style that always promoted three things. Jobs had a belief (which is a great strategy for communication) that a person was unable to communicate more than three things. That the message got lost if you gave them too much information.
When Jobs rejoined (as an aside, Jobs was fired and rehired by Apple in the late nineties and early two thousands) Apple, he went though all projects that the struggling company was focused on. He took the dozens of projects and products the company was engaged in and narrowed it down to four. He believed that real artist made things simple.
He also believed in building a work and company culture, and he needed every to pull in the same direction, working towards the same goal. To insure that everyone was working in paralleled he required all departments to interview potential employees.
Innovation didn’t start with people and products, probably the most innovated ideas that Jobs created were in the design of the products. Jobs was relentless on design, he was greatly inspired by a calligraphy class he took in college. He was enamored by the clean and clear lines of font. He event took, when development the MAC, his development team to a Tiffany glass exhibit to research lines.
Being innovative may seem like a stretch for an accounting department, but if you can use Jobs’ techniques of collaboration, strive for being better, a great communicator, keeping things simple and attention to detail, you will see some pretty remarkable improvements in your department.
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