85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
Cross-Posted from my blog - Innovate on Purpose
I have the good fortune to read books on innovation subjects just before they are released. It is actually a lot more interesting than that might sound. On the whole, there is a lot of good stuff being written about innovation - the real question is, will anyone take the time to read all that's out there?
Today I am reviewing a book called The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo. Gallo wrote a well-received book a few years ago entitled The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, and felt a book on Jobs and Innovation was in order. Anyone who has paid any attention lately knows that Apple is held up as a leading innovator, and rightly so, and most people place the locus of that success squarely on Jobs' head, which I also agree with. If Jobs is driving a wave of innovation at Apple, it would make sense to understand what makes him tick, and what we could learn from that.
First, let me get off my chest the annoyance with the focus on "secrets". As I've written before, there really aren't any secrets where innovation is concerned, and if you've paid any attention to the media you'll know much that Gallo is writing about. The sooner we end the mythos that pervades the innovation space the better.
Now that that's off my chest we can proceed with the review. Gallo has done an excellent job rounding up a significant number of people who were present at the beginning of a number of Apple's innovations. He had to use this method to suss out Jobs' strategy, since Jobs doesn't like to talk about it directly to the media. Jobs prefers to announce grand strategies and use the media to reinforce Apple's image as an innovator and a leader, but he doesn't appear too ready to talk directly about the innovation programs or visions. Gallo has done a good job piecing together some of the strategies and insights by talking to a wide range of people who were with Apple during the resurgence.
Gallo argues that there are seven principles that will help you innovate like Jobs:
1. Do what you love
2. Put a dent in the universe - have a big vision
3. Kick-start your brain - use creativity and have lots of different experiences
4. Sell dreams not products - understand what people want to accomplish
5. Say no to 1000 things
6. Create insanely great experiences
7. Master the message
In these points Gallo identifies what makes Jobs, and by extension Apple, a good innovator. Apple is focusing tightly on important and relevant products and experience that impact how we live, especially how we gain and interact with new media and social media. Apple under Jobs has always had an outsized vision of itself and its mission - remember the 1984 commercial? A big vision, tied to excellent strategic insight and the ability to accurately predict trends in the marketplace have put Apple in an excellent position.
But Apple has also been fairly ruthless in its focus. Since Jobs rejoined Apple the number of products Apple offers has actually fallen rather dramatically. Apple places a lot of emphasis on one or two disruptive products a year, and people eagerly await Jobs' next announcement (master the message). Jobs understands probably better than most what it means to offer a "whole product" (the MP-3 player AND iTunes) and masters the messaging better than any of his competitors. Apple doesn't just create a new technology - in fact they are technology laggards - they create a product that works and provide an excellent experience that seems cool. Sony, Dell, Samsung and H-P must cringe everytime Apple steals a march on them, because Apple has a constancy of vision and the ability to deliver experience in a package that none of these other firms have yet been able to match.
All the Jobs stories are here - how he dropped in at Reed College in calligraphy, his time in an ashram, the early glory days, the days in the Wilderness, his return to Apple. All of them seem to have had an effect on Jobs as a thinker and innovator, according to the book. Somehow I doubt that conclusion. While Jobs is the summation of his experiences, he was always an iconoclast, zigging where others zagged. His experiences may have shaped his thinking, but the kernal of what he is was there all along.
You can't innovate like Jobs because he is Jobs and you aren't, but that's OK. We only need a few Jobs' to set a standard. You can learn a lot about Jobs and his different perspectives, and begin to apply these ideas in places that are far different from Apple. However, you can't simply change a culture of any firm to align it to Apple's thinking, or Google's structures, overnight, and it would be difficult and distracting. What you can do is identify the iconoclasts within your firm and begin to encourage them to think different. Therein lies the genesis of innovation success. Demonstrating that people with unique insights who want to create great change can work within a large, staid organization successfully, rather than having to create a completely new company.
This is a good book, well organized and well written that reminds and reinforces our image and knowledge of Jobs. At the end I am left with the fact that some people are so unique and different that we can't hope to copy them, but even pale imitations may take us a long way. The real question is how many people have the courage to try.
121 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2010
I don't know the author of this book. The only reason I bought the book was that these days I am doing a research on Apple's and especially Steve Jobs' business philosophy. Hence the title obviously attracted, together with five 5-star reviews. I learned that the author is a well-known business reporter but I can confidently say that he does not have a faintest idea about innovation. None at all. I suppose his previous book on Steve Jobs' Presentation Skills was successful, so he wanted to exploit that succeess by writing another stuff on Jobs and chose the subject of innovation.
I read the book cover to cover. Here are my comments:
1. The book is to a very very large extent based on Steve Jobs' presentations and interviews in the press. No original research And my god, the guy believes he could mine the SECRETS of Jobs' innovation philosophy from these published stuff. What a naive approach and what a lousy result.
2. His so-called innovation secrets are mereley romantic mumbo-jumbo like "Sell dreams, not products (woooow), Do what you love (if you love your job then you can innovate!!!!), Put a dent in the universe (yeah, but how?), Kick start your brain.
3. I particularly liked this Kick start thing (Doug Hall's Jump Start?). Apparently Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class at college and visited India before Apple. These two things gave him EVERYTHING that he needed on his succesful route to innovation. One of the foolish things I have ever heard. If one is interested in that subject, Frans Johansson's book The Medici Effect is a lot more valuable. But stil event that kind of thinking, that is connecting&creativity is not enough for corporate innovation.
4. I must warn you on one other thing too. Please don not get fooled by the title and assume that this is a book on Apple. Not at all. It is about first introducing a childish and romantic principle on innovation, followed by some quotations from one of Jobs's presentation and/or press interviews, and then going on to cite examples from all sorts of companies like Target, Geek Squad, Zappos, Apt Electronics etc., i.e. the usual innovation example stuff you already see everywhere. You will be surprised to find more stuff on companies other than Apple. For example, you won't be able to find any detailed Apple case as the Zappo case. All case studies are detailed but all Apple stuff is based on what Steve told in his presentations. If you don't believe me just buy the book and see it yourselves.
5. The guy does not have the faintest idea about innovation. I believe he runs a PR Company and thinks that the subject of innovation is as easy as PR. I am sorry but innovation is a very serious subject the theorization of which is certainly out of the realm of PR people.
6. In the book, you will also love the so-called Jobs' 7th principle: Master the Message. This is apparently a summary of his Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs book. In that chapter you learn that if you can prepare effective PowerPoint presentations and you are good in communicating your messages to people, then you have the capability to innovate. Such a B.....
This is a ridiculous book about innovation and it hardly has any Apple-and-Steve Jobs' related hard evidence. It is good read though, if you do not mind the shallowness of the approach and childishness of the principles. I just laughed when I finished the thing. Just laughed.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Actually, what Carmine Gallo examines with both rigor and eloquence are no longer "secrets," nor are they insights of proprietary significance to Steve Jobs. On Pages 10-11, Gallo identifies and briefly discusses the seven principles in his book. For example, #1: "Do What You Love," a portion of Teresa Amabile's admonition expressed in an article that appeared in Harvard Business Review, "do what you love and love what you do" (1993); as for #3, "Kick-Start Your Brain," Doug Hall wrote a book, Jump Start Your Business Brain, that was published in 2001 and he claimed no authorship of that admonition.
My point is, the value of Gallo's book is not based on any the head-snapping revelations it provides; rather, on the analysis he offers of a truly unique person who co-founded a truly unique organization, and who then established and nourished a culture within which innovative thinking continues to produce, in Jobs's familiar words, "insanely great ideas." Ironically, it is possible but unlikely that Jobs and Apple would have succeeded to the extent they later did were it not for the "insanely great ideas" that he and Steve Wozniak encountered during a visit to Xerox PARC in 1979. Long ago, Thomas Edison observed, "Vision without execution is hallucination." An "insanely great" idea will not achieve "insanely great" breakthrough success without "insanely great" execution.
I also presume to assert that, with all due respect to Jobs, credit for the extraordinary success that Apple has achieved thus far must be shared by hundreds (if not thousands) of people who have been or are now centrally involved at every management level and in all areas of operations. It comes as no a surprise what the principles are that have driven Jobs but they have also served as also the values of the company's culture. Gallo devotes a separate chapter to each of these principles/core values -- citing hundreds sources and real-world examples - that reveal their impact on what is done and how it is done throughout the entire Apple organization. He concludes each of Chapters 2-15 with three "iLessons" that emphasis key points in the material just covered. For example, here are two sets:
First, Chapter 6, Seek Out New Experiences
1. Use analogies or metaphors to think about a problem. By finding the similarities between two things that are unalike, your brain makes new and sometimes profound connections.
2. Leave your comfort zone from time to time. Doing so is critical for the creative process to thrive.
3. Don't live in fear of the new. Embrace change. Embrace diversity of opinion and experience.
Next, Chapter 14, The World's Greatest Corporate Storyteller
1. Tell your story early and often. Make communication a cornerstone of your brand every day.
2. Make your brand story consistent across all platforms: presentations, website, advertising, marketing materials, social media.
3. Think differently about presentation style. Study Steve Jobs, read design books, and pay attention to awe-inspiring presentations and what makes them different from the average PowerPoint show. Everyone has room to raise the bar on delivering presentations, but rising to the challenge requires a dedicated commitment to improve and an open mind.
Note: In this same chapter (i.e. #14), Gallo also identifies and discusses "Three Keys to Communicating Value" and "Seven Guidelines for Selling Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way." Of course, potentially valuable as this and other material throughout the book may be, it remains for those to read it to summon or develop the skills required to put it to effective use.
I also recommend Gallo's The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, Alan Deutschman's The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, Leander Kahney's Inside Steve's Brain, Expanded Edition.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Author and journalist, Carmine Gallo, is fixated on Steve Jobs and that is good for us. "The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs" follows on the heels of his best selling "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs" which is one of the best books on presenting around today. "Innovation Secrets" dissects Jobs' recognized role as the top innovator in the world today. "Few people are associated more with innovation today than Jobs. A Google search for "Steve Jobs + innovation" will generate more than 2.7 million links."
Gallo begins by teasing out the difference between invention and innovation. "Not everyone can be an inventor, but anyone can be an innovator." He makes clear that innovation ala Jobs is not a rigid, step-by-step method, but rather, an adventure based on seven principles. These principles can be used to enhance creativity and develop fresh ideas for our personal life or career, and can inspire all to change the world.
The Seven Principles that drive Steve Jobs are:
1. Do what you love (career)
2. Put a dent in the universe (vision)
3. Kick-start your brain (thoughts)
4. Sell dreams, not product (customers)
5. Say no to 1000 things (Design simplicity)
6. Create insanely great experiences (experience)
7. Master the message (Story)
Gallo goes into great detail and provides numerous examples - using Jobs/Apple and many other individuals and companies - in the seven sections devoted to each of these principles. He also includes the five skills that separate the true innovator from the rest of us.
"The number one skill that separates innovators from noncreative professionals is `associating': the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields. `The more diverse our experience and knowledge, the more connections the brain can make. Fresh inputs trigger new associations; for some, these lead to novel ideas.'" The other four skills include questioning, experimenting, networking, and observing.
As a student and practitioner of innovation, there is much in "Innovation Secrets" that resonated with my experience such as:
* With vision, you can see the things you need when they appear.
* People want to feel, want to be moved, want to believe in something bigger than they are.
* Embrace vision not mission (also echoed by my good friend and author Pat Lencioni)
* There is only one Steve Jobs and... there is only one person with your unique skills and experience. Double down on them. If you are unclear about your unique gifts, see Clifton's "Strengthsfinder: 2.0".
* Most customers do not know what they want in a new product. Transformational breakthroughs rarely result from focus group.
"Innovation Secrets" also provided some new insights which will be useful for me going forward. Gallo's section on "Master the Message" was adapted from his best selling "Presentation Secrets" which I highly recommend as a companion book.
I am not sure what Gallo has up his sleeve for his third book but I can promise that his first two books provide "meat and potatoes" (I am mostly Irish) that will satisfy novices and experts alike.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Carmine Gallo's book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Based on how much I learned from that book, I jumped at the opportunity to review his latest book... The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success. I wasn't disappointed, either. I found a number of interesting insights on innovation here, and I had more than a few strips of paper marking pages of particular interest. I came away with a greater appreciation for what Jobs has accomplished, as well as some mindsets that are good takeaways for my own areas of interest.
Introduction: What the World Needs Now Is More Jobs - Steve Jobs
Principle 1 - Do What You Love
Chapter 2 - Follow Your Heart
Chapter 3 - Think Differently About Your Career
Principle 2 - Put a Dent in the Universe
Chapter 4 - Inspire Evangelists
Chapter 5 - Think Differently About Your Vision
Principle 3 - Kick-Start Your Brain
Chapter 6 - Seek Out New Experiences
Chapter 7 - Think Differently About How You Think
Principle 4 - Sell Dreams, Not Products
Chapter 8 - See Genius in Their Craziness
Chapter 9 - Think Differently About Your Customers
Principle 5 - Say No to 1,000 Things
Chapter 10 - Simplicity Is the Ultimate Sophistication
Chapter 11 - Think Differently About Design
Principle 6 - Create Insanely Great Experiences
Chapter 12 - We're Here to Help You Grow
Chapter 13 - Think Differently About Your Brand Experience
Principle 7 - Master the Message
Chapter 14 - The World's Greatest Corporate Storyteller
Chapter 15 - Think Differently About Your Story
One More Thing... Don't Let the Bozos Get You Down
Gallo has taken an in-depth look at the life and career of Steve Jobs, and from that he distilled seven main principles that appear at the core of much of the innovation that Jobs has driven. For each principle, he takes two chapters to flesh out the details. The first chapter of the pair focuses primarily on Jobs and how the principle plays out in how Jobs works and what he's accomplished. The second chapter then moves on to others who have displayed the same principle, as well as how you can instill that attitude and character in your own life. Given that Gallo is basing his principles on observation of actions, they are not some ethereal pie-in-the-sky platitudes that don't play out in real life. The principles are solid and down-to-earth, and they are things that you can distill and apply in your own life.
I mentioned that I bookmarked a number of pages. These pages had statements and thoughts that resonated with me, and that I wanted to make sure to revisit. For instance, in the chapter on following your heart, Gallo pointed out that you don't always know where you will end up when you do that. "Dots do not connect looking forward, Jobs would say. Dots only connect when you look backward. You must trust that, by following your curiosity, the pieces will ultimately fit." How very true. The future is unknowable, and often it only makes sense looking back. But you can't live your life looking backward. Another instance is in the chapter on thinking differently about design. All too often we want to do everything and include everything in our products and life. But that doesn't lead to a productive and disciplined life... it just leads to a busy life. He suggests that you follow the example of Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, and think through a "stop doing" list. Focus on the things that produce value in your product (and your life) and eliminate the chaff that distracts from that. Once done, you stand a much greater chance of truly making a difference.
You could probably spend time looking at the life of Steve Jobs and come up with a different list of "secrets" based on your own observations and viewpoints. But Gallo's material is excellent, and I can't argue with any of his conclusions. While not a perfect person by any means (and nobody is, anyway), Jobs has arguably made a significant different in our lives, and we could do well to incorporate some of his "secrets" in our own lives.
Obtained From: Publisher
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2011
I did enjoy a lot Carmine Gallo's "The presentation secrets of Steve Jobs", so I was keen to read its sequel "The innovation secrets of Steve Jobs". And it was worth it.
The book takes us on a ride through 35 years of relentless innovation and unmatched success by Steve Jobs and his teams at Apple and Pixar: from the first Apple computer in 1976 to the recent iCloud announcement, through a succession of breakthrough innovations like the Apple II, the Macintosh, the iMacs and iBooks, the iPods, iTunes, the iPhones, Apple and Apps Stores, iPads, and the Pixar creations. Using vivid and timely quotes from Steve Jobs, Apple executives and other monographies, the book recreates the conditions in which each of these innovations emerged. As the reader transitions from case to case, common patterns and regularities start to appear.
Carmine Gallo captures these regularities with seven key principles underlying Steve Jobs', and consequently Apple's, philosophy:
1. Do what you love
2. Put a dent in the universe
3. Kick-start your brain
4. Sell dreams, not products
5. Say no to 1000 things
6. Create insanely great experiences
7. Master the message
These principles reach out well beyond the world of business to the fundamental human needs for self-expression, self-fulfillment, purpose and happiness, and build a symbolic bridge connecting the Apple brand ethos and the people who use Apple's products and services in their everyday life.
Reading through the cases, another, equally important set of regularities in the Apple's innovation way emerges. Apple favours innovation within existing markets, with established social behaviours and clear evidence of strong consumer pull (e.g. iPod innovating within the portable music players market, iTunes within the music download market, iPhone within the smartphone market). Within these markets, Apple zooms in onto the big pain points that people experience and the unmet needs that nobody else is addressing. Removing pain points and satisfying unmet needs are the main drivers for innovation. For example, the iPod solves two user problems at once: limited storage capacity and speed of transfer from the computer to the music player; the iPhone solves multiple complexities in using smartphones. The innovation target is couched in mission-critical language using compelling Good-Bad narrative structures that motivate and make concrete. Already in 1983, Steve Jobs was calling for a mission to free the world from an IBM-controlled world. The mission sets the challenge for the best engineers, designers, marketers to deliver the simplest and most elegant experience; of never being satisfied and keeping improving and refining the experiences.
Innovation in existing markets is not the only pattern though. Several cases presented in Carmine Gallo's book start from gaps in existing markets and lead to the creation of new product categories. The iPad and the Macintosh are great examples of this second way of innovating. Whatever the approach, the clarity of purpose remains exemplary.
The book starts and ends with the statement that there is no Apple system for innovation. However, I was left with the strong impression that Steve Jobs and Apple have developed a heuristic for innovation that may sometimes fail, but most of the time will succeed. Unsurpringly, the heuristic is simple, intuitive, demanding and so hard to execute.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2011
I bought this together with "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs....." by the same author, primarily for Jobs and Apple, of course. I read the "Presentation" one and decided to give this up. If it were not for the death of Jobs, I might have never picked this up. Sorry that I had wasted my time again. In short, this book is no excepton to most "Top n Stratgies/ Secrets/Ways of XXXXXX" books whose authors copied material readily available and drew conclusions on very weak premises with little insight. Odd that there were more coverage on how non-Apple companies innovated and thrived than on how Apple did. In short, not recommended!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
If you are an entrepreneur, chances are that you enjoy entrepreneur-inspiring books. Reading a book about how and what made an entrepreneur successful is always a great learning experience. I enjoy such books.
This last book I just finished reading is The innovation secrets of Steve Jobs from bestselling author Carmine Gallo. I purchased this book in the first place because I was curious about how Steve Jobs managed his approach to innovation. Take note that this is not an official Steve Jobs book (if you need one, you should get the official biography; this book is on my desk, I didn't read it yet).
What I enjoy the most about entrepreneur books is that when I read them, they make me have sparks in my eyes (and my head) and I feel like I'm able to change the world with my ideas. You know the feeling: it's like an excitement that wants to get you moving right now and you won't be able to sleep because of it. In a lot of ways, The innovation secrets of Steve Jobs is such a book.
The book is split in 7 principles. Those principles should be reflecting the principles that Steve Jobs has... had (he unfortunately passed away on October 5th, 2011 - the book was written before his death). Here are the principles:
Principle 1: Do what you love
Principle 2: Put a dent in the universe
Principle 3: Kick-start your brain
Principle 4: Sell dreams, not products
Principle 5: Say no to 1,000 things
Principle 6: Create insanely great experiences
Principle 7: Master the message
For each principle, the author explains how Steve Jobs approached the issue and faced obstacles. What I really like about the book is that the author didn't just focus on Steve Jobs; the book is full of real-life entrepreneurs and how they succeeded. Learning about new entrepreneurs that made a difference in the world is always inspiring to me. Often, a half page text will give a short overview of an entrepreneur, his challenges and how he successfully mastered the principle to succeed.
I learned about a lot of entrepreneurs that I didn't know much about (or even didn't even know). For example, I vaguely knew about the Dyson vacuum cleaners. What I didn't know is that the inventor behind it, James Dyson, spent 5 years trying to build a successful vacuum, did 5,126 failing attempts, all with only income his wife's salary (as an art teacher). Such examples make me want to learn more about those entrepreneurs.
In overall, this is a great book that I highly recommend. It's packed with entrepreneurs' names, so when reading the book, be sure to have a pen close-by to note what seems interesting. The only drawback of the book is that it's written in such an example-based way that sometime it can get a little boring when the examples are not of great quality (it happens). You might want to put the book on the side to take a break from it for a week. But then, you continue reading and eventually you get hooked again. There's no actual end to this book, so don't get surprised when you see the Index and say "already ended?!".
My rating: 8/10 (if you enjoy entrepreneur stories, then it's a 9/10)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2011
This book should be read by every small business owner. The main thing that lacks in too many small businesses is the ability to create, to innovate. Doing everything one can for deserving the loyalty of one's customers and not compromising with one's vision & integrity.
Steve Jobs is a totally dedicated being who deserves to be admired. No matter what he does he does it fully and with total passion and faith. This is what is missing in the current economy. He has proven that no matter how tough the market conditions can be, one can always thrive and succeed.
The author has revealed the philosophical side of Job's business, which, again, is too often the missing ingredient in many companies. It is above all about vision, purposes and contribution. God, I wish our politicians would understand that. This country needs more dreamers - and dream makers like Steve Job, especially at the top. And if we were selecting our country leaders the way Apple has been hiring employees, America would still be a dreamland.
Thank you to Carmine Gallo for this wonderful expose, revealing Steve Job's natural and extraordinary philosophy of business... and of life. I have been inspired and I will inspire others by leading them to this book.
No Fail Hiring
Author of "No Fail Hiring."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2013
This book radically changed my perception about branding products, and life in general. I love how Steve Jobs didn't just see a Mac as another beautiful computer, but rather, a product that would allow people to change the world. He sold dreams not products. Carmine Gallo is a great author. This book wasn't a pain to read. Carmine goes straight to the point and doesn't fill the book up with unnecessary paragraphs to add to its mass. Getting the Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs now :)