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Steve Jobs and the Innovator's Dilemma

Posted October 24, 2011 9:47 PM by Dylan Miyake

On the Harvard Business School blog earlier this week, there was a post on how Steve Jobs Solved The Innovator's Dilemma. The posting was quite interesting -- and relevant to those of us in the social and public sector -- because essentially, it's not about profitability, it's about passion.

To quote Steve Jobs, "My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. The products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It's a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything."

This passion for the product manifested itself in numerous ways throughout Apple. Steve Jobs is also famously remembered for saying that he was prouder of the products that they didn't release than the ones they did -- showing that he understood Porter's idea that strategy is about "saying no."

Since his untimely passing, there's been a lot written about how Steve Jobs was a modern Edison, and all of the contributions that he has made to society. But I think those of us in the management field can learn a lot from what he did as an entrepreneur and a business leader. He was able to lead a company that truly made innovate products and recruited other people who were passionate about the work.

This passion -- or as Dan Pink would call it -- this search for "mastery" is, to my mind, the secret of Apple's success. What does that mean to those of us in the social sector? Well, we need to continue to emphasize and build a culture around excellence and mastery -- Apple didn't change the world because they paid the most -- they changed the world because the cared the most. And we can, too.

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