Insanely Simple : The obsession that drives Apple’s success by Ken Segall

Corporate Strategist Book Review

“To achieve great things, two things are needed, a plan and not enough time”. Just love the quote from Leonard Bernstein on page 72 of the latest book reviewed by the Corporate Strategist!

Last week-end was a Slow Sunday – so a chance to read, Insanely Simple by Ken Segall, the obsession that drives Apple’s success. A great addition to the Apple Case Study, reading list.

Segall focuses on Think Brutal, Small, Minimal and Motion as the first of the ten chapters in this great easy to read book. Be brutal, time is short, don’t beat about the bush, tell it like it is and move on. Think small, work with highly focused small groups of people, easier to keep everyone in the loop. Think minimal, a variation on KISS, just keep it simple stupid. Finally, my favorite, think motion, a degree of pressure, keeps things moving ahead with purpose. Develop a great plan with not enough time to execute it, as Leonard Bernstein advises.

What’s missing from the book, I would add, think basic. Don’t wait for perfection. I always say to the team, if I have nothing, before I have everything, a good start is something on which we can always improve. The digital age is great, get it up, then get it right. Let’s not wait for the perfect solution before we get ideas off the ground.

Steve Jobs was a believer in simplicity and in the brand bank. “ A brand works like a bank account. When the company does good things, it makes a deposit at the bank. When a company experiences setbacks, it makes a withdrawal. When there’s a healthy balance in the brand bank, [loyal] customers are willing to ride out the rough times. With a low balance, even they, the loyal few may be tempted to cut and run. Steve went on record many times about the importance of building a strong brand bank for Apple. It seems simple.

As the notes explain, the obsession with Simplicity is that which separates Apple from other technology companies. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011, and guides the way Apple is organized, how it designs products, and how it connects with customers. It’s by crushing the forces of complexity that the company remains on its stellar trajectory.

As creative director, Ken Segall played a key role in Apple’s resurrection, helping to create such critical campaigns as ‘Think Different’ and naming the iMac. Insanely Simple is his insider’s view of Jobs’ world. It reveals the ten elements of Simplicity that have driven Apple’s success. Reading Insanely Simple, you’ll be (they say) a fly on the wall inside a conference room with Steve Jobs, and on the receiving end of the midnight phone calls. You’ll understand how his obsession with Simplicity helped Apple perform better and faster.

Never felt like a fly on the wall, taking a call at midnight but I get the obsession and it’s a cool read. JKA

About the Author
Ken Segall worked closely with Steve Jobs as ad 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.

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