Saturday, 21 September 2013

Steve Jobs On How Content Is Truly King [video]

Content Truly Is King

In the middle of this amazing "lost" Steve Jobs interview is some of the best thinking on content and product development I've ever discovered. Jobs discusses the very important distinction between process and the masterful craftsmanship required to develop great products.

Listening to this extraordinary segment I thought Jobs was contradicting Dov Seidman's book How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything. On repeated listening not so much. Jobs is warning against process police taking over and attempting to substitute hollow business process where passion, commitment and genius should rule.

Seidman is suggesting that creating the kinds of teams Jobs was famous for leading is the only business process anyone owns. There are no secrets and intellectual property is a poor substitute for fast moving new market creating genius (iPad, iPhone for example).

"People get very confused that the process is the content."

Content Greatness Under Attack

Content fights a two front war. The "process police" are easy to spot. They use words like, "can't", "never before" and "better check with legal". Process police live for the obstruction. Their victory is delay, derail or obfuscation. This is not to say we should all shoot first and figure everything else out second.

While it is hard to define professional obstructionist process police we all know them when we interact with them. In many places these "police" have a kind of institutional tenure. Process police can leach their way into any company or institutions they can be all but impossible to remove or go around.

Steve Jobs was asked to leave the company he started. Perfect example of a company taken over by process police. Why would any company give up a Steve Jobs? Jobs's tells you why in the video when he discusses how difficult it can be to employ and interact with brilliant content creators.

The way of the creative warrior is mercurial, unsure, tempestuous and difficult. In contrast the Process Police hold up a picture of calm seas and quiet hearts and promise unwavering fealty. We do the things the way we've always done them because to do so creates security and assurance that life is orderly, predictable and calm.

In my thirties working for a large consumer packaged goods company I wondered about the nature of risk and time. On the surface our lives seemed ideal. Making large salaries and doing work I loved was great, but each battle was changing me.

The illusion I sold was "intra-preneurship" - approaching my job within a billion dollar company as if I was an entrepreneur. I found out what a total fiction such self deception is when, at 35, we started Found Objects (twenty years ago).

Immediately the fiction of "intra-preneuring" was exposed. All that process strength meant next to nothing in the big bad world of product and content. The fallacy of process as content was clear, striking and immediate.

Content doesn't START magical. Kings of Content, those mercurial people Jobs laments are impossible to manage, craft clay, steel and wood into the art of great content. Would your company hire the next Steve Jobs? If they did would your process police hector him or her right out of the company?

Hope for your company and career's sake the answer to both of those questions is YES and NO.

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