Steve Jobs : Great idea doesn't always translates into great product

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22 Apr 202005:50


TLDRThe speaker reflects on the misconception that a great idea is most of the work in creating a product, emphasizing the importance of craftsmanship and the collaborative effort of a talented team. By sharing a personal anecdote about polishing rocks, the speaker illustrates how teams refine and improve ideas through friction and shared passion, resulting in exceptional outcomes. The speaker also discusses the significant impact of having top-tier talent in a team, advocating for the pursuit of 'A' players to achieve the highest level of success.


  • 💡 The misconception that a great idea is 90% of the work highlights the低估了 the importance of the execution and refinement process in turning an idea into a successful product.
  • 🛠️ The transformation of an idea into a product involves significant craftsmanship, with the original concept evolving and adapting based on new insights and challenges.
  • 🌟 The process of creating a product is akin to a team of talented individuals working together, each contributing their unique skills and perspectives to achieve a common goal.
  • 🤖 The challenges of design and manufacturing include dealing with the limitations of materials, electronics, and the complexities of production processes.
  • 🔄 The iterative nature of product development involves constant discovery and adaptation, requiring the integration of new problems and opportunities into the design process.
  • 🌈 The magic of product development lies in the collective effort of a team, pushing boundaries and finding innovative ways to bring their vision to life.
  • 👴 The story of the old man and the rock tumbler serves as a metaphor for the power of teamwork and passion in transforming raw, unpolished ideas into something beautiful and refined.
  • 🏆 The significance of assembling a team of 'A' players who inspire and elevate each other's work, leading to an environment of excellence and high standards.
  • 📈 The dynamic range between average and exceptional can be vast, especially in the realms of software and hardware, where the best can outperform the average by a significant margin.
  • 🔎 The speaker's success stems from identifying and attracting top talent, and creating a culture that values and nurtures 'A' players to drive innovation and quality.

Q & A

  • What does the speaker describe as the 'disease' that hurt Apple after he left?

    -The 'disease' referred to is the misconception that a great idea constitutes 90 percent of the work, and that simply sharing this idea with others is enough for them to bring it to fruition. The speaker emphasizes the importance of the craftsmanship and the iterative process involved in transforming an idea into a great product.

  • What does the speaker suggest is often underestimated in the process of creating a product?

    -The speaker suggests that the tremendous amount of craftsmanship, the evolution of the idea, and the trade-offs that need to be made during the development process are often underestimated. These aspects involve understanding the limitations and possibilities of various materials and technologies, as well as the continuous learning and adaptation that occurs throughout the process.

  • How does the speaker describe the evolution of a great idea into a great product?

    -The speaker describes the evolution as a process where the idea changes and grows, never coming out exactly as it started. This is due to the learning and understanding that occurs during the development process, as well as the need to make trade-offs and adapt to the realities of materials, technology, and other constraints.

  • What metaphor does the speaker use to illustrate the power of a team working on a project they are passionate about?

    -The speaker uses the metaphor of a group of people polishing rocks together. Just as the rocks, when placed in a tumbler and left to rub against each other, come out polished and smooth, a team of talented individuals working together, sometimes with friction and noise, can polish each other's ideas and efforts to create something beautiful.

  • What was the speaker's early observation about the dynamic range between average and the best in various fields?

    -The speaker observed that in most fields, the difference between average and the best is typically a two-to-one ratio. However, in software and some areas of hardware, this dynamic range can be as much as 50 to one or even 100 to one, indicating a much greater disparity in quality and outcome.

  • How did the speaker build much of his success?

    -The speaker built his success by seeking out and hiring truly gifted individuals, known as 'A players'. He focused on not settling for 'B' or 'C' players, but instead aimed to create a team of 'A players' who would enjoy working with each other and raise the standard of the entire team.

  • What does the speaker mean when he says that the 'A players' don't want to work with 'B' or 'C' players?

    -The speaker means that highly talented and dedicated individuals, or 'A players', are often不愿意 to collaborate with those who are less committed or skilled, as it can hinder their work and the overall quality of the product or outcome.

  • How did the Mac team differ from other teams according to the speaker?

    -According to the speaker, the Mac team was unique because it was composed entirely of 'A players', who were extraordinarily talented individuals. These team members not only worked well together but also raised the bar for each other, leading to a self-policing environment where only more 'A players' were hired.

  • What is the significance of the speaker's story about the widowed man and the rock tumbler?

    -The story of the widowed man and the rock tumbler serves as a metaphor for the collaborative and transformative power of a team. Just as the rough rocks become smooth and polished through the friction and interaction within the tumbler, a team of passionate and talented individuals can refine and improve their ideas through collaboration and conflict, leading to exceptional outcomes.

  • What does the speaker imply about the role of individual symbols versus team effort in achieving success?

    -The speaker implies that while individuals can become symbols of certain achievements or ideas, true success is rarely the result of one person alone. It is the collective effort, the teamwork, and the synergy of many talented individuals working together that leads to the creation of great products and ideas.

  • How does the speaker describe the process of product development as it relates to problem-solving and opportunity discovery?

    -The speaker describes product development as an ongoing process of keeping numerous concepts in mind, fitting them together in new and different ways, and continuously discovering new problems or opportunities. This process requires adaptability, creativity, and a commitment to refining and improving the initial idea.



💡 The Illusion of the Great Idea

This paragraph discusses the misconception that a great idea is the bulk of the work. It emphasizes the importance of craftsmanship and the evolution of ideas during the product development process. The speaker shares insights on the challenges and trade-offs involved in turning an idea into a product, highlighting the need for continuous learning and adaptation. The metaphor of a team's collaborative effort in refining and polishing ideas is compared to the process of turning ordinary rocks into beautiful polished stones through friction and persistence.


🌟 The Power of A-Players

The speaker shares his philosophy on assembling a team of top-tier talent, or 'A-players', and the resulting dynamic. He explains that when A-players collaborate, they enhance each other's work and are motivated to maintain a high standard,排斥 'B and C players'. This self-policing culture leads to a concentration of exceptional talent, which in turn fosters innovation and excellence. The Mac team is cited as an example of such a team, comprised of extraordinarily talented individuals who worked together to achieve outstanding results.



💡Great Idea

The concept of a 'Great Idea' refers to an innovative and original thought that has the potential to lead to significant progress or success. In the context of the video, it is the starting point for creating a product, but it is not the entirety of the work required. The speaker emphasizes that while a great idea is crucial, it is the meticulous craftsmanship and the iterative process of development that ultimately shapes a great product. An example from the script is the misconception that a great idea alone can lead to success, which the speaker argues is far from the truth.


Craftsmanship refers to the skill, care, and attention to detail involved in making something. In the video, it is used to illustrate the importance of the labor and expertise required to transform an idea into a finished product. The speaker stresses that there is a significant amount of work that goes into refining and perfecting an idea, which is akin to the craftsmanship needed to create a masterpiece. This is exemplified in the video through the analogy of the old man's rock tumbler, which shows how ordinary rocks, through the process of rubbing against each other, become polished and beautiful stones.


Evolution in this context refers to the process of change and development that an idea undergoes as it moves from conception to realization. The speaker explains that as one delves deeper into the intricacies of a project, the original idea evolves, grows, and adapts based on new insights and challenges. This concept is integral to the video's message, as it highlights the dynamic nature of innovation and the necessity of being open to change in order to achieve the best possible outcome.


Trade-offs are compromises or sacrifices made in order to achieve a particular goal or to accommodate conflicting demands. In the video, the speaker discusses the inevitable need to make trade-offs during the product development process, as not all ideas can be fully realized due to practical limitations. This concept is illustrated by the speaker's mention of the limitations of materials like electrons, plastic, and glass, which necessitate adjustments and compromises to the original vision.


Teamwork is the collaborative effort of a group to achieve a common goal or to complete a task. The speaker in the video uses the metaphor of a team working passionately on a project to emphasize the collective power of talented individuals. The analogy of the rock tumbler, where rocks polish each other to create beautiful stones, demonstrates how team members can refine each other's ideas and skills through interaction and collaboration, leading to a polished and refined final product.


Passion refers to a strong emotion of enthusiasm or excitement for something. In the context of the video, passion is portrayed as a driving force behind the dedication and hard work of a team. The speaker believes that when individuals are passionate about their work, they are more likely to collaborate effectively, overcome challenges, and achieve exceptional results. This is evident in the speaker's reminiscence of his childhood experience, where the old man's passion for showing him the rock tumbler led to a profound lesson on teamwork and creation.

💡Dynamic Range

Dynamic range, in this context, refers to the difference in quality or performance between average and exceptional entities or outcomes. The speaker uses the concept to illustrate the significant disparity between the best and the rest in certain fields, such as software and hardware. The video emphasizes that the difference between a mediocre product and an outstanding one can be vast, and this realization has been a key factor in the speaker's approach to building successful teams and products.


The term 'A-Players' is used to describe highly talented and skilled individuals. The speaker in the video believes in the importance of assembling a team of A-Players, as they not only produce superior work but also attract and inspire other top performers. This concept is central to the video's message about the power of a group of passionate and talented individuals working together to achieve extraordinary results. The speaker's strategy of hiring only A-Players led to the success of the Mac team, which was composed of extraordinarily talented people.


Innovation is the process of introducing new ideas, methods, or products. It is a key theme in the video, as the speaker discusses the importance of not just having a great idea, but also the need for continuous innovation and improvement throughout the development process. The speaker's experiences and the evolution of the original idea into a polished product underscore the necessity of innovation at every stage, from conception to completion.

💡Product Development

Product development refers to the entire process of bringing a new product to market, which includes conceptualization, design, testing, and production. In the video, the speaker details the complexities and challenges involved in product development, emphasizing that it is a multifaceted process that requires a combination of creativity, technical expertise, and teamwork. The analogy of the rock tumbler serves as a metaphor for product development, where raw materials (ideas) are transformed into something polished and refined (a finished product) through a collaborative and iterative process.


Talent refers to a person's natural aptitude or skill in a particular area. In the video, the speaker underscores the importance of surrounding oneself with talented individuals, suggesting that the presence of A-Players can elevate the entire team's performance. The concept of talent is central to the speaker's philosophy, as he believes that the collective talent of a team is what ultimately leads to the creation of exceptional products.


The misconception that a great idea is 90% of the work and the remaining effort is in execution.

The importance of craftsmanship in transforming a great idea into a great product.

The evolution of ideas as one learns more and faces trade-offs during the development process.

The necessity of balancing 5,000 concepts in the design and creation of a product.

The daily discovery of new problems and opportunities as part of the product development process.

The magic of the process lies in the team's ability to adapt and innovate continuously.

The metaphor of a team's collaborative effort as similar to rocks polishing each other to create beautiful stones.

The significance of a team genuinely believing in what they are working on.

The early observation at Apple about the vast difference in quality between average and the best.

The dynamic range between average and the best being much larger in software and hardware than other aspects of life.

The strategy of building success by finding and working with truly gifted 'A' players.

The self-policing nature of 'A' player teams, where they only want to work with and hire other 'A' players.

The creation of pockets of 'A' players that propagate excellence and high standards.

The Mac team as an example of a group of extraordinarily talented 'A' players working together.



one of the things that really hurt Apple


was after I left John Sculley got a very


serious disease and that disease I've


seen other people get it too it's um


it's the disease of thinking that a


really great idea is 90 percent of the


work and then if you just tell your all


these other people you know here's this


great idea then of course they can go


off and make it happen


and the problem with that is is that


there's a just a tremendous amount of


craftsmanship in in-between a great idea


and a great product and as you evolve


that great idea it changes and grows it


never comes out like it starts because


you learn a lot more as you get into the


subtleties of it and you also find


there's tremendous trade-offs that you


have to make I mean you know there are


there are just certain things you you


can't make electrons do there are


certain things you can't make plastic do


or glass do and and and as you get into


or factories do or robots do and as you


get into all these things designing a


product is keeping 5,000 things in your


brain these concepts and fitting them


all together in in kind of continuing to


push to fit them together in new and


different ways to get what you want and


every day you discover something new


that is a new problem or a new


opportunity to fit these things together


a little differently


and it's that process that is the magic


and so we had a lot of great ideas when


we started but what I've always felt


that a team of people doing something


they really believe in is like is like


when I was a young kid there was a


widowed man that lived up the street and


he was in his 80s he's a little


scary-looking and and I got to know him


a little bit I think he might have paid


me to cut his lawn or something and one


day he said come on into my garage I


want to show you something and he pulled


out this dusty old rock


tumblr it was a motor and a and I in a


coffee can and a little you know band


between them and and you said come on


with me we went out to the back and we


got some just some rocks some regular


old blue rocks and we put them in the


can with a little bit of liquid and a


little bit of grit powder and we closed


the can up and he turned this motor on


he said come back tomorrow and as kin


was making a you know racket as the


stones went and I came back the next day


and we took we opened the can and we


took out these amazingly beautiful


polished rocks the same common stones


that had gone in through rubbing against


each other like this create a little bit


of friction creating little bit of noise


had come out these beautiful polished


rocks and that's always been in my mind


my metaphor for a team working really


hard on something they're passionate


about is is that it's through the team


through that group of incredibly


talented people bumping up against each


other having arguments having fights


sometimes making some noise and working


together they polish each other and they


polish the ideas and what comes out are


these really beautiful stones so it's


hard to explain and it's certainly not


the result of one person I mean people


like symbols so I'm the symbol of


certain things but it really is it was a


team effort on the Mac now in my life I


observe something fairly early on at


Apple which I didn't know how to explain


it then but I thought a lot about it




if you most things in life the dynamic


range between average and the best is it


most two to one


all right like if you go to New York


City and you get an average taxi cab


driver versus the best taxi cab driver


you know you're probably gonna get to


your destination with the best taxi cab


maybe 30% faster you know in an


automobile what's the difference between


an average and the best maybe


20% the best CD player in an average CD


player I know 20% so 2 2 1 is a big big


dynamic range in most of life in


software and it used to be the case in


hardware to the difference between


average and the best is 50 to one maybe


a hundred to one easy ok


I've very few things in life or like


this but what I was lucky enough to


spend my life in is like this and so


I've built a lot of my success off


finding these truly gifted people and


not settling for B and C players but


really going for the a players and I


found something I found that when you


get enough a players together when you


go to through the incredible work to


find you know five of these eight


players they really like working with


each other because they've never had a


chance to do that before and they don't


want to work with B and C players and so


it becomes self policing and they only


want to hire more eight players and so


you build up these pockets of a players


and it propagates and that's what the


Mac team was like they were all a


players and these were extraordinarily


talented people

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