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The Once and Future Jobs

So much has been written about Steve Jobs’ passing, it almost seems futile to try.  But the outpouring of respect and grief from “the rest of us” that consumed the social networks says something important about what we need from our leaders, and what we want from our technologies.

Jobs had an amazing belief that, given excellent tools, ordinary people would do wonderful things.  He was famously tough on his staff – unwilling to compromise his standards, but willing to encourage new ideas and listen to critiques.  He challenged people to make their very best efforts, and we loved him for it.

To engage employees, as we work so hard to do, one must first believe that they want to be engaged.  Leaders do that by listening, by encouraging people to express themselves.  They don’t tolerate apathy, but point the way towards action, and cheer those who head in the right direction.

Business leaders who listen in to social media today can gain tremendous insights.  Given great communication tools, people will become engaged.  Given recognition and challenged to apply their talents, they will make great things.

Anyone who used an Apple product felt empowered.  We’ll miss Steve, but he left a little bit of his spirit in our hands.

All Hail the iPad!

I have been a Mac user most of my life.  And to any Mac devotee that comes at a cost.  (No, not the retail value, though my overpriced laptop still lasts three times as long as that other OS version.)  But what I mean is the price to defend my choice.  For in the “business” world we were the outcasts, the troublemakers, and the enfants terrible of the personal computing world.

Then it happened one day.  The CFO of a major global corporation, prepping for our video shoot, revealed her latest tool: her iPad.  What is this I thought?  A business individual, a numbers person, of all things, embracing the enemy?  Is this a victory for the small guy, the rest of us? All hail the…?

Face it. Despite the worldwide acceptance of the “other” operating system as a business tool, you’ve all suffered from Mac envy.  The sleek lines, the intuitive interface, you can’t deny its appeal. And now you have an excuse to own one.  Because the iPad is rapidly becoming the most successful new business tool to be launched in decades. The consulting firm Deloitte estimates that companies will buy some 10 million tablets this year, the majority of them iPads. That’s companies! Not individuals, companies.

Apple is getting serious about the enterprise.  And Salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff described current IT strategies as the “consumerization of IT.”  What’s good for the consumer is good for business. Does your business have a Facebook account? Wasn’t that once for college kids only?

The bottom line is: in the end it’s all about productivity.  Tablets like the iPad have a deep catalog of business apps that turn this mobile device into a real business workhorse. Companies are distributing them to sales people to take into the field to present products, track orders, videoconference and communicate quickly and easily.

And, they are cool.  Admit it, you always wanted to be on our side. Welcome.