As most of the world knows by now, yesterday Steve Jobs retired as CEO of Apple – one of the most successful and innovative companies in US history. He was one of the co-founders of Apple in 1976 and what that company is today is a direct result of the vision and person of Steve Jobs.
I admit that I am (or was) a reluctant user of Apple products. I always fought the “hip” (which is pretty obvious if you know me as I have never been accused of being “hip) and superior image that Apple projected. Plus, most of the world and the tools I used were all PC-related. But I have had an iPhone for almost two years and love it. I have had an iPad since June and love it. And though I don’t ever see myself switching all the way to a Mac computer, my attitude toward Apple products has changed.
Steve Jobs has been an incredible leader and innovator. So, in light of his retirement, here are some quotes from Jobs that I think have some application to our leadership in whatever sphere we find ourselves – including ministry. Most of these quotes were gathered from a post by Casey Chan at Gizmodo.com and from the book The Steve Jobs Way, by Jay Elliot. (I drew from the review by David Mays. You need to check his website as he gives a summary of dozens of great books.)
On the importance of innovation:
"Nothing in companies is as blinding as a strategy, an approach, or a product line that has worked before. Success can be self-defeating, if it leads you into the rut of repeating yourself. Too often we cannot envision a different world because we've gotten into the habit of looking at our world with the mind-set of what has worked before."
"Innovators create products that are an outgrowth of what they imagine, things that help them create a world they would like to live in."
"Every team needs the spark of at least a few truly creative people who 'think different'--different enough to set an example for everyone else."
"We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas." PBS Documentary, Triumph of the Nerds, 1996
"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." BusinessWeek, 1998
"Apple should be the kind of place where anybody can walk in and share his ideas with the CEO."
On the importance of being focused as an organization:
Jobs pulled the plug on established, steady-selling products in order to focus on a few of the best. [Apple currently sells only 20 products.] He said, "I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do."
On the importance of passion:
"Great products only come from people who are passionate."
“You won't get people working for you fired up with enthusiasm unless you're fired up yourself . . . and you let everyone know it."
On his goal:
"The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money; it was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater."
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me ... Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful... that's what matters to me.” The Wall Street Journal, 1993
"I want to put a ding in the universe."
When Steve Jobs recruited John Sculley, Exec VP of PepsiCo to be CEO, the clincher appeal was this: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water, or do you want a chance to change the world?"
I’ve used that last story many times in sermons. I think too often we in the Church have been content to run programs or keep people entertained rather than aim for changing the world. To do that, leaders need to lead. Be innovative. Be creative. Be focused. Don’t look at how we have always done things, but look for how we can do things better, with more excellence, and in ways that actually “produce” what we say want – men and women who have been transformed by God and who are working with Him to influence the world. Not just men and women who are addicted to a religious habit.