My friend Ricardo Mier just made me aware of this video from Steve Jobs from 1997. I think it should be required viewing for anyone that wants to understand the basic principles of innovation and product management. In response to a rather aggressive question by a member of the audience, Jobs expresses the principles of Apple's vision and success in a simple and clear way that is applicable to any business.
This is the best part of the speech
"One of the hardest things when you are trying to effect change is that there are technologies that do things that nothing else out there does.
The hardest thing is how does that fit in to a cohesive larger vision that is going to allow you to sell 10 billion dollars of product a year.
You have got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with the technology and try to figure out where you're going to try to sell it.
As we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, It started with what incredible benefits can we give to the customer, where can we take the customer, not starting with let's sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and how we are going to market that, and I think that is the right path to take."
Steve Jobs - WWDC 1997
This video is from the first Apple Developers Conference after Jobs' return to Apple in 1996 from his exile at Pixar. The most interesting thing is that it confirms how critical that time was for him to emerge as a visionary that combined the technical knowledge and the commercial/customer focus which made Apple what it is today. This is a post I wrote where I postulated that Apple would not be the same if Jobs had not spent that time at Pixar.