In the broad and foaming wake of Steve Jobs' death, I think it makes sense not just to adorate his genius. That genius is all around us, in our pockets, on our desks and on TV screens.
I think it makes more sense to consider the gap between Jobs and just about everything and everyone else. Jobs' vision and genius was of such strong magnitude that he and Apple became something to admire but not to emulate. "We could never be like Apple," is an admission you'll hear from just about every client, as if Jobs' strictures were somehow beyond the capacity to even imitate.
David Brooks, the brilliant but annoyingly conservative op-ed columnist for "The New York Times," has an astute piece, nominally about Jobs, in today's paper: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/brooks-where-are-the-jobs.html?hp
In it he puzzles over "innovation starvation" and today's "great stagnation."
He says, "we travel at the same speeds as we did a half-century ago, whether on the ground or in the air. We rely on the same basic energy sources...
"The Green Revolution improved grain yields by 126 percent from 1950 to 1980, but yields have risen only by 47 percent in the decades since. The big pharmaceutical companies have very few blockbuster drugs in the pipeline. They are slashing their research departments..."
Innovation at least from a marketing communications point of view should be simple. We might all be lacking Jobs' genius. But we would all be better off if we at least copied his deeds.
If we remembered what Jobs said when asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”