Steve Jobs: Real Innovation Requires Working Backwards

I truly believe that the best way to succeed in business is to deliver substantial value to your clients. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The service or product that you offer may be of significant value to you, but its true value (according to free market principles) is based on the buyer’s perception. So to deliver value, you have to get inside the client’s head.

Once you have an idea of how something you deliver will improve the outcome of your client, work backwards to determine how best to deliver that solution.

In the world of technology, when a product or service alters consumer’s expectations of what is possible, the buzz word you hear most often is disruptive. In other words, that technology disrupts the previously held views of what is possible, thus transforming the marketplace in a positive way.

Apple’s products have disrupted the consumer space many times. But, as many people know, there were times in Apple’s history where the company was not successful, and on the verge of failure. After being ousted, Steve Jobs returned to Apple years later to reclaim the helm. At that point, the company’s engineering teams seemed to be headed in numerous incongruent directions.

Below are two videos shared by Garr Reynolds, at Presentation Zen, in his post addressing Steve Jobs’ incredible focus (definitely worth the read). To set the stage, these videos come from the 1997 Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), as Steve fields questions from developers in the audience that are learning about changes within Apple that will impact their own products and services.

Too many people put the proverbial cart before the horse, putting forth technology for the sake of the technology. Technology is a set of tools. Knowing what tool to use for a given situation is the mark of a true master.