Steve Jobs and the myth of the genius creator

by Jeffrey Tucker on November 9, 2011

Steve Jobs is often held up as the embodiment of the entrepreneur who made something totally new out of nothing. But the New Yorker offers a different take completely. Malcolm Gladwell says that he was in a long line of “tweakers” who made the industrial revolution – people who took what existed, didn’t like some aspect of it, and worked for improvements until the thing was done. Jobs’s perfectionism could not be realized in the absence of the pre-perfection products that flooded the market. In that sense, though he would deny it, he was completely dependent on the work of others, to provide the positive market test and the negative example that he had to beat. He absorbed, learned, and improved. This was his way. “Jobs’s vision, brilliant and perfect as it was, was narrow,” writes Gladwell. “He was a tweaker to the last, endlessly refining the same territory he had claimed as a young man.”

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John C. Randolph November 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Jeffrey,

No, Steve would not deny that he depended on others. He said on many occasions that his task was to choose amongst the innumerable great ideas that Apple’s design and engineering staff were coming up with every day.

-jcr

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