Monday, October 31, 2011

Absence Defines Presence

The Zen of Steve Jobs from the Wall Street Journal blogger Steve Yang offering insights into the genius Apple co-creator and CEO of the world’s second most valued company (and for some moments #1). The key theme is that much of Jobs’ brilliance, and the beauty of Apple’s creations under his inspired leadership, can be traced back to the influence of Zen Buddhism and in particular an emphasis on absence defining presence.

As well as introducing inspired new features that we never knew we wanted (but found we instantly loved), a hallmark of Apple products is the absence of things we don’t need. For example, Apple was ahead of its time as the first to do away with the floppy disk drive from its computers. The keyboard has since followed, surpassed by the effortlessness of touch. A focus on elegant simplicity is another Zen-related concept revealed powerfully in Apple’s products. Clean lines, smooth surfaces, no distractions, just intuitive interfaces and thoughtful touches.

‘Eliminate’ has been an e-word close to my mind, as a call to make the main thing the main thing. When it came to eliminating the unnecessary to unleash his world-changing devices, Steve Jobs was a Zen Master.

When times are tight, it’s important to realise that elimination is about focus and value, not cutting for cutting’s sake. It’s about defining what you are by what you choose not to be, and creating space for new things to grow. Stop. What needs to go to make your product, your business, your life better?