Steve Jobs’ Amazing Ability to “Discover” (Not Invent) Products
In the new winter issue of MIT SMR, editor-in-chief Michael S. Hopkins’ “Steve Jobs, the Way John Sculley Tells It” highlights a recent interview with the one-time Apple CEO about the current chief executive, who announced Monday that he’s taking a medical leave of absence.
John Sculley’s conversation with Leander Kahney, publisher of cultofmac.com and author of Inside Steve’s Brain, was published in October.
Hopkins says that the interview is provocative partly because of “Sculley’s abject frankness and vulnerability — his psychic near-nakedness,” and partly because of “Sculley’s efforts to describe what he calls Jobs’s sacrosanct “methodology”— design-centric, customer-experience-focused and committed to the belief that it’s what you decide not to do that matters.”
One great story from the interview is about the time Sculley and Jobs visited Edwin Land, inventor of Polaroid instant photography. Said Sculley:
“Dr Land had been kicked out of Polaroid. He had his own lab on the Charles River in Cambridge. It was a fascinating afternoon because we were sitting in this big conference room with an empty table. Dr Land and Steve were both looking at the center of the table the whole time they were talking. Dr Land was saying: ‘I could see what the Polaroid camera should be. It was just as real to me as if it was sitting in front of me before I had ever built one.’
“And Steve said: ‘Yeah, that’s exactly the way I saw the Macintosh.’ He said if I asked someone who had only used a personal calculator what a Macintosh should be like they couldn’t have told me. There was no way to do consumer research on it so I had to go and create it and then show it to people and say now what do you think?
“Both of them had this ability to not invent products, but discover products. Both of them said these products have always existed – it’s just that no one has ever seen them before. We were the ones who discovered them.