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Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success Paperback – 4 Apr 2013
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A blueprint for running a company the Steve Jobs way ... should be required reading for anyone interested in management and marketing (The Times)
Punchy ... Segall gets inside Apple's branding and marketing to explain its directness and power (Financial Times)
Required reading (Observer)
An entertaining perspective on how Apple typically gets it right... Candid and insightful. Insanely Simple should be required reading for any boss with a Byzantine organisation and a shrinking business (The Guardian)
In this captivating book, Segall has succeeded in distilling what made Steve Jobs succeed in ways no one would have imagined - simplicity. The idea of going simple, and Jobs's obsession with it, is neither a set of rules nor a goal, but a worldview of how things should be. . . More practical than theoretical, this essential book is about using the power of Simplicity to set a company apart (Publishers Weekly)
Intriguing insights from someone who worked closely with Jobs on some of Apple's most successful ad campaigns (Forbes)
A few pages in, I was hooked. . . [A]n amusing and revealing book about the company's extraordinary leader, Steve Jobs, and the guiding principle that made him one of the great businessmen of the age (The Boston Globe)
Ken Segall has literally captured lightning in a bottle. Insanely Simple reveals the secret of Steve Jobs's success with such clarity, even we non-geniuses can make use of it. Ken shows us how to cut through the cobwebs of fuzzy thinking, bureaucracy, and mediocrity, and clearly see what's most essential - and therefore most important (Steve Hayden, former vice chairman, Ogilvy, and author of Apple’s legendary 1984 Super Bowl commercial)
As the man who came up with the iconic iMac name that launched one of the most successful product lines in history, Segall played a pivotal role in reviving Apple from near-death. His close working relationship with Jobs allows him to provide insight into how Jobs's obsession with simplicity became the driving force that informs every decision the company makes to this day (Booklist)
Reveals a fresh insight into Steve Jobs's mind and how his obsession with simplicity drove Apple to success (Macworld)
This book provides industry insight that many other books on Steve Jobs and Applelack. . . Recommended for those looking for advice on running a successful corporation and readers interested in all things Apple (Library Journal)
A fascinating glimpse behind Apple's famously closed doors, taking the reader inside the inner sanctum and sneaking a peek at the marketing meetings presided over by Jobs (PC Advisor)
About the Author
Ken Segall worked closely with Steve Jobs as an agency creative director for NeXT and Apple. He was a member of the team that created Apple's legendary 'Think Different' campaign, and he's responsible for that little "i" that's a part of Apple's most popular products. Segall has also served as creative director for IBM, Intel, Dell, and BMW. He blogs about technology and marketing at kensegall.com/blog, and has fun with it all at scoopertino.com. Follow Segall on Twitter: @ksegall
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David Ferrers, author of SWAP, The Best Way to Make Your Dreams Come True
I'm old enough to have worked for organisations both large and small - as an employee and as an outside supplier. It can be frustrating to be working for an organisation that has a core of brilliance but somehow can't get things done - this book explains the one simple reason why this is often the case: they can't do things in a simple way.
The book's author, Ken Segall, worked as a marketing provider to Apple - and, at the same time, Intel, Dell and other large IT companies. It's essentially the story of what makes Apple such a force to be reckoned with - but isn't merely a sanctification of Steve Jobs.
Yes, Steve is mentioned aplenty and is usually the centre of the many examples given. But while it touches on many of the facets of Steve's character which made him so successful, it focuses on one thing which almost anyone can do to improve their business - yet, will find an incredibly difficult and elusive concept to implement: simplicity.
Steve was often regarded as ruthless. Although there's some truth in that, it's probably better to say that he was single-minded. He wanted to get things done - and he often wanted to get them done fast. He didn't like to hear the word `no'.
Well, we've all worked with managers who think that's the right way to move a company forward, that without their aggression, people simply wouldn't do their best. Steve's single-mindedness wasn't like that. He often knew that there was a better way and he provided a means to get there. He demanded simplicity.
Steve himself said that simplicity is hard to achieve. Segall's book tells the journey of a marketing man working with Steve Jobs as he struggled to rebuild his massively broken former empire.
In big-company terms, some of the stories are amazing - such as when Steve returned to Apple and decided that it needed a branding campaign. After all, the company's brand was in the gutter. Yet Apple had never run a campaign that was only about brand, ever. What was aired was one of the greatest campaigns of all time - the Apple `here's to the crazy ones' commercial, which was the spearhead for the company's `think different' brand campaign.
"Here's to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Anyone who's ever tried to get a brand campaign running will tell you how hard it can be. First, the company has to understand its own values. Then, it has to work out the smartest way to communicate them. Steve wanted, needed, his campaign to be done fast. It took around a month - a simply astonishing amount of time.
The book contrasts this with Dell, who, after six months, still hadn't worked out what it stood for; it hadn't even got off the starting blocks. The book also contrasts Apple with Intel, which stifles creativity and strong ideas with the overuse of focus groups, which dilute ideas until they are not only inoffensive, they are ineffective. Or, the excessive use of testing analytics to remove any element of risk - and most elements of impact.
Apple never uses focus groups. Ever. It's smart enough to know a good idea when it sees one and has the confidence to run with it. When it makes a mistake (such as the round `puck' mouse), it admits that mistake - and moves on quickly. This sounds arrogant, but the point is that not only does Apple trust itself, it knows how to keep things simple. It runs major meetings as conversations, not as presentations. Decision-making teams often number just two or three people; if you're not absolutely needed at a meeting, you won't be invited. If you turn up anyway, you'll be ejected. Apple - not just Jobs - is ruthless about simplicity.
Other companies believe that large project teams mean more brains on the job. Apple knows that this means more points of view, more conversations, more meetings, more cost, more delays - and a watered-down concept.
Other companies believe in inclusivity. That getting the `wider view' will win hearts and minds. Apple believes in secrecy - that they have the knowledge, the smarts, the energy needed to make something really great that will win hearts and minds all on its own. Apple knows that the wider your outside involvement, the more people you have to please - and the less focused the idea.
Apple's obsession reaches into every aspect of what it does, including having teams working in secret to create packaging that delights people before the product is even pulled from the box. Other companies simply buy the cheapest brown pulp boxes they can.
Apple is now one of the most profitable companies in the world. It makes more money than most other computer companies combined, despite not having the largest market share. Its products reshape markets. That isn't magic - it's damned hard work and a passion about one thing: simplicity.
This is one book every business leader should read. Many will read it with envy, unable to envisage how they can possibly change the culture of their organisation into one that's both as empowered and as empowering - and therefore so effective.
Here's to the crazy people.
Ken Segall makes a strong argument that one of the keys to Apple's success is a fierce adherence to the custom and practice of Simplicity. To back this up he takes 10 facets of simplicity and uses a story from his history with Steve Jobs and Apple to illustrate each point. He uses stories from his experience with Dell, IBM and others to show what happens when you embrace complexity instead. The book is simple, the stories fascinating but it's enough to provoke a lot of serious thought about how you run your business and whether making it simpler would make it more effective.
For students of Jobs it's also a useful book, one of the first written by a close insider who can explain a little of HOW Jobs was able to both inspire fierce loyalty and demand freakishly high standards. Segall also makes good case for much of Jobs behaviour being reasonable when viewed in context of what he wanted to achieve. In this respect it's a much better book than the relentlessly tabloid approach taken by Walter Issacson in Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography.
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