Steve Jobs’ Decision Making Process

Throughout his whole life, Steve Jobs’ houses remained as simple as the products he envisioned more than 30 years ago. I had the privilege to take a selfie at one of them while spending time with the invi team in Palo Alto.) It wasn’t fancy in any way. As Walter Isaacson recollected in his autobiography of Steve:

…the homes were not ostentatious and there were no high hedges or long drives shielding them from view. Instead, houses were nestled on lots next to each other along flat, quiet streets flanked by wide sidewalks. ‘We wanted to live in a neighborhood where kids could walk to see friends,’ Jobs later said.

As I wandered through Isaacs’ carefully woven pages, I bumped into a paragraph reminiscing the process Jobs and his family went through to choose a new washing machine for their new home:

It turns out that the Americans make washers and dryers all wrong. The Europeans make them much better – but they take twice as long to do clothes! It turns out they wash them with about a quarter as much water and clothes end up with a less detergent on them. Most important, they don’t trash your clothes. They use a lot less soap, a lot less water, but they come out much cleaner, much softer and they last a lot longer. We spent some time in our family talking about what’s the trade-off we want to make. We ended up talking a lot about design, but also a lot about the values of our family. Did we care more about getting our wash done in an hour versus an hour and a half? Or did we care most about clothes feeling really soft and lasting longer? Did we care about using a quarter of the water? We spend about two weeks talking about this every night at the dinner table.

They ended up getting a Miele washer and dryer, made in Germany.

The story speaks about a form of intentionality that is quite extreme but never the less gives a brilliant portrayal of how Apple was created. With intent – asking very specific questions in order to end up with the best possible conclusion.

What struck me most in this story is how Steve and his family weighed their options against their values to end up with a product that would work and fit their values better.

We recently went through a similar decision making process where we decided not to split our production and account team into two different offices, purely because one of our core values at Mabua is family, and the rift would have compromised this and some of our other values.

At Mabua we believe that great products are not only a result of intentional designs and great strategy but also about being very intentional about the values we stand for.

And sometimes it means saying no to what seems like a great opportunity…