Business lessons from Steve Jobs

This week is the D Conference which is the All Things Digital conference. Many of the top CEO’s and companies in the tech industry are interviewed and featured during the event and there are none more influential than Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs. He had an interview at this conference where he discussed many issues, some for the first time, which many people were interested in listening to his thoughts on. I saw the interview in parts off the AllThingsD site (click here to see them) and although I found much of what he had to say interesting, my most important take away from it was how he handled certain situations.

Over the past several months, Apple has been in situations that they have been able to avoid in the past. This is one of, if not the most secretive consumer products companies in the world and the situations that they found themselves in took some of their secrets and put them in the hands of the World Wide Web for everyone to see. I am talking about 2 or 3 instances when their internal work was leaked online.

First, some months ago, before Apple unveiled its iPad, a company called Flurry, Inc.¬†which makes special software that detects and gathers information on devices that use apps said that their system found about 50 tablet- like devices at the Apple campus in Cupertino, California. This meant that Apple was in fact working on a tablet product and pre-empted Apple’s announcement on that product.

The second instance of leaked Apple secrets came not too long ago when an Apple employee forgot his yet to be released next generation iPhone in a bar and someone found it and sold it to tech site Gizmodo which showed it to the world. A similar scenario took place recently, but this time it was a Vietnamese site that posted pictures of the phone.

When asked about these issues, Steve Jobs decided to not shy away from them or try to downplay their significance and revert back to Apples’ secretive ways. Instead, he described each of the two cases (the tablet one and the iPhone one) in a full story manner which gave the listener the impression that he did not hide any thought he had on the issue. The way he handled these issues in the interview was the best way for any business to handle these types of situations where the company has had their information be made public without their permission but that it is beyond question regarding its authenticity.

I have seen many cases (this BP oil spill is a perfect example) where a company downplayed or denied information that was made public in which it was obvious that the information was true. The consequences for that company are a loss of trust with the public and a loss of respect for the executive. Everyone should click the link above to watch those two parts of the interview and learn from how Steve Jobs handled those situations.