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Apple had always been “different” —but what drove it had never changed. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011.
It is the obsession which has driven Apple to its stunning success -- thanks to the fact that to Steve Jobs, simplicity was a religion. He personified and preached simplicity and was its most fervent and consistent advocate within Apple’s management team. Jobs was famous for wielding the “simplicity stick” within Apple. An insistence on and obsession with simplicity in Apple’s hardware, software, manufacturing, business strategy, product launches, marketing and more were inspired and guided by Steve Jobs. Simplicity is now so embedded within Apple’s DNA it will continue as a guiding philosophy even though Jobs is no longer around.
So why does simplicity work? The fact is people prefer it. Human beings are predisposed to like simple solutions to their problems. They crave simplicity and respond positively to it whenever and wherever they see it. The funny thing is even though everyone likes simplicity, most firms end up going out of their way to make things more and more complicated for their customers.
If you can enshrine the pursuit of simplicity at the center of everything you do, you’ll find this philosophy will power your company to great heights. Even better, if you become skilled at developing simple yet elegant solutions, you’ll be in demand wherever you choose to work. Simplicity works.
"By no means am I saying that Simplicity is the sole factor behind Apple’s success. Leadership, vision, talent, imagination, and incredibly hard work may have just a bit to do with it. But there’s one common thread that runs through it all. That’s Simplicity. It’s what drives Apple to create what it creates and behave as it behaves. It’s Apple’s devotion to Simplicity that forms an unbreakable connection with its customers and inspires customers to evangelize to colleagues, friends, and family." — Ken Segall
Core element 1
To keep things simple, you’ve got to be prepared to be blunt when people stray into complexity. You have to be honest 100 percent of the time, even if that’s impolite.
Most of the stories which have been told about Steve Jobs over the years stressed his abrasiveness and his brusque manner with employees, suppliers and pretty much anyone he came into contact with. That may be true but the fact is Jobs never really cared about whether he was being nice or mean. He was being straight with people and told them exactly what he thought, even if that made them feel uncomfortable.
“When you work with Apple, you know exactly where you stand, what the goals are, and how quickly you need to perform. You’re also aware of the consequences should you screw up." — Ken Segall
The simple fact is clarity propels an organization forward and forces it to do its best work. For clarity to work, however, it can’t be occasional. It must be the pervasive, in-your-face twenty-four-hours-a-day strength. Clarity like this takes no prisoners and cuts to the chase. Jobs demanded straightforward communications from those he worked with as much as he dished it out himself and Apple was a better company for it.
“This is probably the one element of Simplicity that’s easiest to institute. Just be honest and never hold back. Demand the same from those you work with. You’ll make some people squirm, but everyone will know where they stand. One hundred percent of your group’s time will be focused on forward progress—no need to decode what people are really saying. Being straight with people does not alone make you a heartless bastard. It does not mandate that you become manipulative or mean. It’s simply a matter of saying what needs to be said to push your team to deliver the best possible results." — Ken Segall