Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs - The Passing of an Artist

"Art is high-quality endeavor."
-From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I am saddened by the passing of Steve Jobs.
I grew up using Apple products and eventually became interested in the soul behind the company - especially it’s rebirth upon Steve Jobs' return in the late 90‘s.  It seems that Apple’s success stems from a focus on quality - and I imagine that this is in no small part due to Steve Jobs.  Quality vision, quality business management, quality products, and quality marketing.  
I also think that Apple’s success reminds us of the importance of visual elegance.  Apple’s user interface and product design have always been a joy to work with - in fact, even unpacking an Apple product is blissfully aesthetic.  And Steve Jobs had his hand in much, if not all, of that - he brought us fonts on our computers and personally holds packaging patents (along with over 300 other design and operational patents).  He cared about design. . . In one instance a completely superfluous screw was installed in a computer’s case so that it balanced with the other side of the machine.  And not only did the outside and inside hardware have to look good, but the actual computer code did too.  On and on it goes.  So does Apple place form over function?  No, anyone who has used one of their beautiful products has to concur with Steve . . . “it just works.”  He also cared about details . . . it has been said that he would obsess over the getting the right color of green to be used in a keynote presentation slide and at times he, the CEO, determined the curve of the bevel on the corner of a computer.  
Yet while he was very detail oriented, he also excelled in opening our minds to grand possibilities. 

Every time he spoke there was a positive energy about some sort of growth.  He made things happen.  Even his failed company NEXT became the underpinnings of Apple’s highly praised UNIX based OS.  

His management style was very creative - perhaps a bit harsh from stories of those close to him - but was focused on quality.  I’ve read many articles about Apple’s methods and find them very focused and designed to produce quality - such as the method of developing a product with all teams on board and the number of initial concept designs required and the number of prototypes created.  It seems that Steve was never afraid to sacrifice something good in order to achieve the best - such as the late-hour complete redesign he engineered of the Apple brick and mortar store model that has proved successful beyond anyone’s expectations.
I guess that’s why I’m sad - we’ve lost a visionary who cared about quality and was in a position of influence.  His influence has been felt around the world and is so noticeable because so many of Apple’s products are communication tools.
I don’t believe life ends at death - I believe that we each stay who we are as we move into another sphere of existence.  Products get old (who cares about the 1st generation iPod anymore), but talents, relationship and management skills, values, discipline, work ethic, knowledge, experience and one’s character, among other things, do go with us into the next life - and even as I hope Steve is productively engaged even now - I know that here we miss him.
I’ve written this on a Mac, by the way. Homepage Oct. 5, 2011