The man who "showed" the world that good design is (also) good business.
Steve Jobs was a gift to modern society. What his mind, his soul and his heart have been able to conceive, define and produce has impacted the life of billions of people around the world. He changed the way we work, the way we enjoy our free time, and the way we communicate, through his Mac, his iPod, his iPhone, and everything he built around them. But there is another community, within the broader global population, that owes Steve so much of its most recent relevance, and that’s the professional design tribe. He gave a new legitimacy to the world of #DESIGN in front of thousands of business people, shareholders, investors and media in many industries around the world. 1.. (Great) Design generates great business value He showed the planet that it was possible to combine emotions and business, human centered innovation and profit, design driven experiences and shareholders returns, cool products and mass distribution, beauty and growth. Thomas John Watson Jr, chairman and CEO of IBM in the 50s and 60s, famously proclaimed during a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania in 1973 that "good design is good business". Steve Jobs took that principle and showed the world what it meant. After Apple's shareholder value skyrocketing to unbelievable levels, after Apple's products touching the life of millions and millions of people around the planet, nobody could question that principle anymore. From the investor to the man on the street, it became clear to everybody. 2.. Design is not a "niche affair". Steve showed also the world that great design was not a “niche affair” for a privileged and sophisticated crowd, he showed the world that great design could be for everybody. And with that he gave a unique opportunity to every creative, in every industry, in every corner of the globe, to make a case for design as a driver of meaningful experiences for people as well as meaningful returns for companies and shareholders. 3.. Design is not a marketing stunt. And he finally showed that good design is not a marketing stunt, it’s part of a company culture, it’s embedded in its DNA, it drives behaviors, decisions and processes, strategy, mindset and tools, and it defines every touch-point of the brand, visible and invisible, in the most profound and authentic way. And either it’s like this or it will just be a fad, unable to produce any value nor to last. 4.. Design is much more than good business. Now, Design is so much more than just business, profit and growth. I imply this already on the tile of this article: Design is also good business. But before that Design is about deeply understanding people needs and desires, and then crafting solutions for them that are meaningful and relevant, adding different layers and forms of value to their lives. As such Design has a profound ethical value. The implication of good business associated to good design is that your design idea can then reach and create value for as many people as possible around the world: the more success the more people positively impacted. I deep dive in this topic in many of my previous articles and speeches. Here it's just a quick reminder to make sure we don't forget the complete picture, beyond the economic value. Steve Jobs was driven by this ethical idea: he wanted to create something extraordinary for people. Business results would have followed. Technology was an enabler. Distribution and communication were amplifiers. People where at the start, the center and the end: he wanted to design the most unbelievable products to gift to humanity. And he did. In my professional journey in different enterprises, from Philips to 3M to PepsiCo, Steve Jobs has been always a very personal and intimate inspiration as well as a very public aspiration to share with my team and with the entire organization. The portrait that Walter Isaacson makes of him in his biography is one of the most inspiring stories I have ever read. A few years ago I bought hundreds of copies of that book and I have gifted them to every designer in my group at PepsiCo. I did it to inspire them. I did it to remind them that to change the world you need to constantly dream, love, fight, make sacrifices, be committed, be authentic, be real, think big, take risk, trust your guts, empower your mind, jump and believe. I did it to give them an additional tool, a benchmark, and a story, to share with the rest of the world, to evangelize their peers, their partners, and the ones that didn't understand them, that didn't believe in them, that didn't trust them. Thank you Steve, for everything you did for all of us. You shaped the world we live in. In your innovations you will live forever. With love, Mauro