Steve Jobs’ Quotes on Innovation and Design That Are Helpful Perspective in Leadership and Ministry

Here are some selected quotes from from Steve Jobs (thanks to BrainyQuote.com) that I think are helpful to people in leadership positions and in ministry. Steve Jobs knew how to lead, innovate, and do things with an exceptional level of quality. Too often in ministry we do things to get them done rather than only do what we can do exceptionally well. It ties us up with peripheral issues and distractions much as the apostles faced in Acts 6 and ties our hands from leading and having an eye for quality and doing things in an exceptional manner for our Lord and for those who come seeking Him out.

On the importance of saying No

  • “And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
  • “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

On doing things with excellence 

  • “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
  • “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”
  • “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back.”
  • “It took us three years to build the NeXT computer. If we’d given customers what they said they wanted, we’d have built a computer they’d have been happy with a year after we spoke to them – not something they’d want now.”
  • This one is related to that one but is from Henry Ford, ““If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” (Thanks to Eric Brown for sharing that one with me)
On innovation
  • “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
  • “But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem.”
  • “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
  • “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”
On design
  • “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”
  • “The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it.”
On change
  • “I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.”

Simple vs. complex

  • “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Leading People
  • “The people who are doing the work are the moving force behind the Macintosh. My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay.”
  • “We hire people who want to make the best things in the world.”

0 Responses to Steve Jobs’ Quotes on Innovation and Design That Are Helpful Perspective in Leadership and Ministry

  1. Richard Kruse says:

    Probably behind every successful leader there are a hundred saying to their like-minded, “It can’t be done that way!” The greatest biblical leader is first and foremost a servant.

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