- File Size: 482 KB
- Print Length: 234 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio (April 26, 2012)
- Publication Date: April 26, 2012
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0064W5V5C
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,917 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success Kindle Edition
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—The Times (London)
“Gets inside Apple’s branding and marketing to explain its directness and power.”
“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, legendary Apple creative director, author of the “1984” Super Bowl commercial
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Some people predict the future, but Steve Jobs creates the future. It takes a lot of effort sifting, and sorting to come up with a simple vision. A vision that everyone can see, feel, and embrace. Because of Steve, he has changed the world. Imagine a world without APPLE. Scary.
For those of us caught up in our own tangle of webs, knots and convoluted thinking . . . this book is for you.
Investor | Author | Entrepreneur
I was able to tie many of the ideas presented in the book into my everyday life. I work in a rather large organization that could benefit from a few lessons on simplicity and a few doses of minimalism. During the middle sections of the book, we see how overcrowded meetings, overpopulated projects and unclear communication can be huge killers of creative productivity. I agree with these examples and plan to lend concepts of minimalism to my own education and professional career.
In addition to how to pursue simplicity as a corporate philosophy, Insanely Simple provides additional glimpses into the life of Steve Jobs and the inner workings of Apple. The book will be equally at home on your bookshelf next to business classics like Jim Collins' Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't or Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs autobiography.
Top international reviews
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 .
After reading this book it has resonated with me, and I do think about what I have read in this book in my day job. It's quite inspiring, and if the company I worked for took on a little more of Job's attitude we would all work a lot faster.
However this book is frustrating at times. With almost every point made, the author feels he needs to explain how this point links perfectly back to simplicity which quickly becomes tedious. These 5-10 lines read like an essay a 16 year old might write. The points made are mostly sound but I can see the simplicity in the points for myself; it doesn't need explaining every single time especially as each section is so short and the point is made essentially twice. It's like someone explaining a joke when the punch line is obvious; it just isn't required. I think the author needed to have a little more faith is the intelligence of the reading audience. In addition, the capitalisation of the 'S' in simplicity throughout the book is just strange.
More annoying is that the links back to simplicity become ever more tenuous as the book goes on. For example, Segall says that the product names of Dell (Vostro, Latitude, Precision) are confusing in terms of understanding the walk up the range. Yet he claims that Apple's iPod range is a bastion of simplicity with Shuffle, Nano, Touch and Classic. Sorry, no. That is not a valid point as the same issue exists with both Dell and Apple there. This happens at other times in the book, sometimes it is downright biased towards Apple and many times I found myself stopping and thinking 'what the hell?'.
Despite these faults though, my first two paragraphs are true. It is a great book even with the many blips along the way.
I already believe in the power of simplicity, and reading about a company that aspires to this provided me with insights and ideas for my own company. As one reviewer said, their synapses were firing. Yes, the insights may be obvious, but only obvious once you know them. I'm not an Apple fan in normal life, and don't care about learning about Steve Jobs, but I do care about simplicity as the guiding light in my business, and in that respect, this book is great.
If you've read lots of books and have them on bookshelves somewhere (I will go digital soon...), how many of them can you look at and sum up in a sentence or two a number of years after reading them? I think this one will stand the test of time:
Complexity creeps in unnoticed, until it strangles the good work. Be aware of this, and always look to simplify.
David Ferrers, author of SWAP, The Best Way to Make Your Dreams Come True
Personally, I think the word "Elegance" is a better term to use than "Simplicity". Apple products are supremely elegant, from the packaging to the form to the design to the OS and to the apps.
For me the most important take-out from the book was to think about what simplicity could mean in my business. Simplicity can be harder to achieve than complexity but if you make the breakthrough you can change the business for both employees and customers.
And it is a very entertaining read!