Steve Jobs was Right and Wrong

by colbert | December 13, 2011

I just finished reading an excellent New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell entitled “Tweakers“.  The gist is this:  not unlike the concept of the Last Mile, the truth of much of the innovation that has changed the world is that its societal significance has come as much from the innovators who refined the original idea as the innovators who first came up with it.

Job’s legacy while seeming to be about innovation really is about his ability to see a good idea and make it better, much better.  And for that he was supremely talented and supremely right.   Gladwell’s depiction of this is crystal clear as is his depiction of Jobs’ tweaking methods, which is where our 21st century mini-messiah went extremely wrong.  He tweaked by shoving, demanding, demonizing and humiliating people.  Getting it right, as he defined right, was worth any cost.  And perhaps the most alarming part is that our culture has come to celebrate and revere the consequences of that abuse while overlooking the abuse itself.

Imagine any other CEO, military leader or even college coach who belittled and brutalized all who worked for them?  How long would people stand for it?  Apparently as long as the perceived value of the right exceeds the actual value of the wrong.

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