An extraordinary visionary and innovator, Steve Jobs specialised on the introduction of products nobody had seen before. In the Business Week Q&A session with a correspondent Andy Reinhardt in May 1998, Jobs said: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why a lot of people at Apple get paid a lot of money, because they are supposed to be on top of these things” (Reinhardt). To materialise his dreams into impactful products Jobs successfully paired vision and professional skills.
Jobs preferred strong professional mastery over shaping the future. His insights were secured by his passion for control and perfection. Jobs believed in his responsibility over the whole masterpiece. He implemented his ideal controllership via the Apple ecosystem. Apple software and hardware are tightly connected and closed for outsiders. In an April 2012 Harvard Business Review issue, Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson wrote: “Jobs and Apple took end-to-end responsibility for the user experience—something too few companies do” (Isaacson).
Many eminent visionaries believe only professionals can successfully shape the future. In a March 2012 interview written by the Evening Standard Science Correspondent Mark Prigg, the former Apple Chief Design Officer Jonathan Ive said: “It’s unfair to ask people who don’t have a sense of the opportunities of tomorrow from the context of today to design” (Prigg). On November 2004 conference call with business analysts, the Chairman and President of Fox News Channel Roger Ailes said: “I don’t have any focus groups on talent and programming. If I need five people in a mall to be paid $40 to tell me how to do my job, I shouldn’t do my job” (Steinberg). The other part of successful visionaries is guided by heart. In an August 2000 interview written by the Entertainment Weekly Senior Writer Jeff Jensen, the famous writer Joanne Rowling said: “I have to write the story I want to write. I never wrote them with a focus group of 8-year-olds in mind. I have to continue telling the story the way I want to tell it” (Jensen). In a September 2014 interview, written by Vogue Contributor Dirk Standen, the famous fashion designer Ralph Lauren said: “I have always done what I love myself” (Standen). On June 2011 Amazon shareholders meeting, the Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said: “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details” (Cook).
Successful visionaries may dramatically fail outside their field. While we know tremendous visionaries in business, science, engineering, art, we do not know universal visionaries. The most sorrowful example is Jobs attempt to apply his vision to medicine. In October 2011 Quora discussion, a researcher at Harvard Medical School Dr. Ramzi Amri wrote: “Given the circumstances, it seems sound to assume that Mr Jobs’ choice for alternative medicine has eventually led to an unnecessarily early death” (Amri). A successful visionary has to be very clear about his or her functional area. Survivorship bias causes vision narrow focus. In a professional field a visionary receives constant feedback honing the related skill. The failure occurs when elaborated specific vision is generalised and meant to be boundless. Strong visionaries are much more advanced in practical vision appliance than in its theoretical foundations. Especially as in conventional modern science vision theoretical foundations do not exist. Jobs ingeniously caught vision as a narrow professional skill, but unfortunately he did not apply his insight to himself.