This video is of Steve Jobs just after he returned to Apple in 1997, answering a question from the audience:
In his reply to the gentleman, he gives a snapshot into his thinking and why he approaches some things the way he does, essentially explaining the notion of being intentional about the bigger story you are telling. This not only includes being intentional about what you include, but also being intentional about what you leave behind. The focus, he explains must always come back to the customer’s experience and the value they receive:
The hardest thing [in evaluating a piece of new technology] is how does it fit into a cohesive larger vision that’s going to allow you to sell 8 billion dollars, 10 billion dollars of product a year? 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’re going to sell it.
As we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, it started with what incredible benefits can we give to the customer; where can we take the customer — not starting with “let’s list down with the engineers and work out what awesome technology we have and then how are we going to market that.” And I think that’s the right path to take.
My biggest takeaway from it though was the fact that in making decisions, you are bound to make incorrect ones — but what’s important is that you remain actively shaping that story because the story keeps going and changing.
Some mistakes will be made along the way — that’s good because at least some decisions are being made. We’ll find the mistakes and we’ll fix them.
Cast a bigger vision. Work out who you are as a company. Determine how your products — their benefits and value to your customers — best fit together into one story. Most of all, determine what does not fit. Where is the value? What is meaningful? Focus on that.
Start something new, but review, revise and repeat. Before you know it, you’ll have built something great — something that changed a lot along the way. But that happens by doing, and making one decision at a time.
Today of course, history has proven Steve Jobs’ approach to have worked. Apple went on to re-build the story of who they were as a company into becoming the most valuable brand in the world. Focus on the value you give your customer first, and build the rest of your story from there.