Connecting the Dots

As you might know, Steve Jobs passed away last month. Although his death means something different to everyone, there is undoubtedly a lot we can learn from the reflection on his life. His accomplishments are, of course, familiar to most. Matter of fact, you might very well be reading this on one of his accomplishments. He didn't do it alone though. His partner back in 1976 when Apple was founded was a gentleman by the name of, Steve Wozniak. You don't hear much about "the other Steve" but those who know about him, including Jobs, label him the true technological genius. On the other hand, Jobs is labeled as the business genius, the guy who knew how to turn the technology into money; the guy who knew how to connect the dots.

As the leader of your company, you are more than likely in charge of connecting the dots and figuring out how a new business venture or strategy will create a profit. You usually do this before you begin that venture surmising that if all the numbers don't work out you don't move forward. This is very true in most cases but something struck me that Wozniak said in a recent television interview. The interviewer asked, "Am I right in saying that you were more interested in doing and making something cool and Jobs was the one focused on making money?" Wozniak surprisingly said no. He went on to say the Jobs never really talked about money in the early days. Jobs talked about doing something great and changing the world. Of course, Jobs did figure out how to make the technology profitable but Wozniak said, "Jobs always said you can't connect the dots looking forward, you connect them looking backwards." In other words, sometimes you can't know if a venture is going to lead to riches. However, you can have faith that if you do something great, you'll figure out how to make it profitable. These are not necessarily words to live by in a traditional business, but sometimes, as Jobs used to say, you have to "think different."