E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Power Shift – People Running Companies by Apple?

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves & San Bartolomé de TirajanaI have been in the IT industry for well over 15 years now and for a good number of them I have been relying on multiple different systems. One of them being Windows. Fast forward to today, and as most folks out there would know, if you have been following me on any of the various social networking sites, I have been using Apple products (Macs, iPhone and iPad) for nearly 6 years now and, just recently, I have finally come to terms with the main reason why I made the switch back then and have never walked back. My levels of productivity and effectiveness have never been the same anymore. And it’s just too funny that it’s all due to having watched a recent video clip in Wired from a never-aired Apple commercial in 1983! Yes, 29 years ago some folks over at Apple truly understood and fully embraced the Power of Social. Who would have thought, eh?

I am sure you are all wondering what I am talking about, which video is that one that I am referencing above, what difference does it make that I have moved to the Mac nearly 6 years ago on how I view my own involvement with social networking for business and how I’m more and more convinced they may have provided us all with that tipping point of why there is hope that the Social Enterprise concept will stick around for a long while, if we pay attention to how plenty of large enterprises and businesses are looking closely into the potential impact of Apple devices inside of the workplace (Despite some horrifying experiences that we have bumped into just recently as well). 

Well, I am referring to this piece in Wired, under the title “Former Apple Engineer Posts Unseen Mac TV Ad From 1983“, which references this Google Plus post by Andy Hertzfeld where he quotes an Apple commercial for the original Macintosh that they did in the fall of 1983, but which, apparently, never aired and I think I can see why! Although it is not the main sentiment that Andy mentions on the Plus post. Here it is the embedded code, so that you can play it. It lasts for a little bit over a minute: 


Noticed something different in that advertisement? No? Really? Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the discourse of how the Macintosh came together in the first place, but about something a whole lot more subtle that has escaped most people’s perceptions on the repercussions of such bold statements. Specially, my favourite one. The one from Mike Murray, the Director of Marketing of the Macintosh division back then, who just basically stated the following: 

And I think what you are going to see is that the balance of power is going to shift. The balance of power from companies running people to, hopefully, people running companies” [Emphasis mine]

Does that ring a bell? Specially, in the context of Living Social in the workplace? You bet it does! And this is where I came to realise what making use of Apple products has meant for me over the course of the last few years, as I got more and more heavily involved with technology and social networking tools, for that matter, to get my work done. That’s the fact that technology is no longer a hurdle for yours truly. There are no more headaches, no more screams, nor yelling, at the screen b*tching about why a certain action didn’t take place when I did everything correctly. No more demotivated and frustrated things don’t turn around on the screen just right, as you would have expected. Finally, it all eventually falls into place. It all just works! And beautifully.

And that’s certainly the beauty behind that powerful quote from Mike, because, if anything, it allows us to do something that would be very much needed at this point, which is forget about technology, use it as a tool, as a means to achieve a goal and focus on the behaviours, on the mindset, on changing people’s habits, on helping them understand you, too, can have a wonderful experience, i..e. eventually, becoming more effective and efficient at what you already do, without having to suffer from the odd technology hiccup, just like that, allowing you to focus on what we would always need to focus on: the conversations. The conversations with people regardless of where you and they are, regardless of the device you are using, whether mobile or not, and regardless of the nature of the interaction. Just converse.

Who would have thought that, 29 years ago, the vision was already there! Who would have thought that those folks portrayed on the video clip were on a bigger mission: helping shift corporate dynamics from a rather heavy technology focus / fetishism, where people were just resources, towards that much more liberating, creative, inspiring, collaborative and knowledge sharing prone environment where people were, still are!, people, interacting with the tools to get something out of those interactions, because tools will always be tools. Yes, some times it would be hard to explain. But then again, that’s where play kicks in. We do need more play at work. Specially, for all of that stuff that we find difficult to justify and explain, but that it’s essential to every single business. Something that people, human beings, have been excelling at for many millennia. And for plenty more to come along!

Yes, I almost became an instant #fanboi. Almost. but what a powerful one-liner, don’t you think? One that can certainly change the world. For the better. Our little corporate world and the larger one for that matter, too!

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  1. That corporate egalitarianism at Apple apparently was not just a random thought put out there in this commercial either, but part of the corporate culture. Here is a great quote from Steve Jobs,

    “Apple was a very bottom-up company when it came to a lot of its great ideas. We hired truly great people and gave them the room to do great work. A lot of companies — I know it sounds crazy — but a lot of companies don’t do that. They hire people to tell them what to do. We hire people to tell us what to do. We figure we’re paying them all this money; their job is to figure out what to do and tell us. That led to a very different corporate culture, and one that’s really much more collegial than hierarchical.”

    You can listen to the interview yourself at: http://www.npr.org/2011/10/06/141115121/steve-jobs-computer-science-is-a-liberal-art

    I love pairing this with the Lowes’ example of the floor salesperson unintentionally driving $1 million in additional paint tray sales. It shows how great people are throughout an organization, and social software provides them with a communication channel that values their input.

    1. Hi Phil! Thanks ever so much for the wonderful feedback and for the insightful commentary! Somehow, I am not just surprised *at all*… And perhaps I’m becoming more of a fanboi now!

      That *excellent* quote reminds me of a recent blog post that I put together over here as well under the heading “Social Business – Where Ideas Keep Fighting Hierarchy” where Steve Jobs comments very much along the same lines on the power of ideas vs. hiearchies and how he manages teams as crews assembling for work, exchange of ideas to get the job done vs. being top down corporate driven! Just brilliant! And spot on, in my opinion, on that thought about giving knowledge workers enough autonomy and decision power to get them to excel at what they do best!

      RE: Lowes’ example, absolutely, which is one of the reasons why I always keep telling people to stop rejecting ideas just for the sake of doing it, because there is a great chance that very same idea you are rejecting could well be the next biggest thing! That example from Lowes is just another one to add to the list!

      Thanks a lot, once again, for dropping by and for the feedback!

  2. And so it was with many companies, but few if any stuck it out long enough to wait for the right tipping point. 20+ years to get to it, that is a long road which few want to travel.
    Vision was there, technology was behind. Now technology is there and vision is left behind sometimes.
    Do what you love, the rest will follow.

    1. Hi Keith! Fascinating times, aren’t they? I keep reminding myself when are we going to be born into a time where both vision AND technology would be walking along nicely and everything hehe I certainly agree with you that in today’s currently Wall Street mentality of quarter after quarter it’s tough, and getting tougher to find businesses which are looking more into the bigger picture of where they would want to be in the next 30 to 50 years. Perhaps that’s why the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies out there haven’t been in business for more than just 15 years. Merely and barely.

      Oh, well, truly *loved* your last sentence, which I think summarises rather nicely why most of us are doing what we are doing: what we love, regardless of what happens next! Onwards! 🙂

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