Steve Jobs was always right. Here’s how he did it, and how you can too.
How being wrong more often will make you right when it counts.
“Fucking Steve always gets it right,” Andy Grove, Intel’s legendary CEO, once said about Steve Jobs.
This sounds absurd, impossible.
But even a decade later, Jobs’ ability to get the right outcome was legendary, from Apple’s dramatic turnaround in the mid-90’s to the raging success of the iPhone.
Here’s how he did it, according to Andy Grove (as re-counted by Kim Scott in her book Radical Candour):
“I didn’t say Steve is always right. I said he always gets it right. Like anyone, he is wrong sometimes, but he insists, and not gently either, that people tell him when he’s wrong, so he always gets it right in the end”
There are two factors at play here:
- Be outcome obsessed
- Be willing to change your mind, quickly and completely.
Must of us are afraid of being wrong in public or appearing inconsistent.
We think that we will be judged, or lose our credibilty, if we walk back previous statements or change our mind.
The current climate of cancel culture and political polarisation certainly doesn’t help.
But the truth is that the ability to change your mind, and to do it quickly and thoroughly, is a key component of success.
As Scott says:
“…Steve was so focused on getting to the right answer that he genuinely didn’t care who’d said what. Obviously, this approach could be frustrating ...
But the relentless focus on challenging himself and those around him to “get it” right rather than to “be” right was part of what drove Apple’s breathtaking ability to execute so well.”
This is a great paradox — and a lesson I’m trying to instill in my work and life:
To get the right answer, you must be willing to be wrong — always.