Dennis Flanagan, long-time editor of Scientific American, tells of once meeting the famous New Yorker movie critic, Pauline Kael. After introducing themselves, Ms. Kael admitted to Flanagan that she knew “absolutely nothing” about science. Flanagan responded: “Whatever became of the idea that an educated person is supposed to know a little something about everything?"
This bygone tale of fourth-estate squabbling reminds me how much the world has changed. Today, every executive not only needs to know “a little something” about information technology – he or, increasingly, she needs to play an energetic and informed role in making sure that full value is extracted from the some $3.7 billion dollars we spend annually for information technology.
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In just about every city in America you will be able to find, if you look hard enough, a comic book store. And in that comic book store, if you ask, you will be directed to the Batman section. Batman, of course being unique among superheroes in that he is “just” a human being1 – a hyper-focused human being able to do amazing things. In a similar manner I believe that in every major organization focused on designing differentiated customer experiences today you will find a section of the executive mind [both individual and collective] influenced by Steve Jobs and the Apple adventure. We frequently forget that Mr. Jobs too was “just” a human being. And that we, too, can do extraordinary things.
Cartographers of the mental landscape of business will confirm that independent of the products and services created by his organizational legacy, Apple Inc., Steve Jobs—the legend, the lore, the rich and seemingly inexhaustible source of lessons—was and remains a cottage industry of sorts. Guy Kawasaki has, for over two decades now, parlayed his time “in the presence of Steve” into a lucrative career on the rubber-chicken circuit. Carmine Gallo ably assists wanna-be moguls in perfecting their ability to craft and deliver a “Steve-like” presentation. Just about every national business periodical, most top-ranked business schools and a significant subset of name-brand consultancies devote significant attention to enumerating what we might learn from Steve Jobs.... Read more