Gladwell: ‘Jobs’s sensibility was editorial, not inventive’

The New Yorker
Malcolm Gladwell believes Steve Jobs’ genius was not as an inventor but as a “tweaker” — someone who perfected ideas rather than creating them. “Jobs’s sensibility was editorial, not inventive,” Gladwell writes. “His gift lay in taking what was in front of him — the tablet with stylus — and ruthlessly refining it.” Example: the “Think Different” campaign he worked on with the advertising team at TBWA\Chiat\Day. “It was Jobs who agonized over the slogan until it was right,” Gladwell says, pulling this example from Walter Isaacson’s bio of the Apple co-founder:

They debated the grammatical issue: If “different” was supposed to modify the verb “think,” it should be an adverb, as in “think differently.” But Jobs insisted that he wanted “different” to be used as a noun, as in “think victory” or “think beauty.” Also, it echoed colloquial use, as in “think big.” Jobs later explained, “We discussed whether it was correct before we ran it. It’s grammatical, if you think about what we’re trying to say. It’s not think the same, it’s think different. Think a little different, think a lot different, think different. ‘Think differently’ wouldn’t hit the meaning for me.”

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve been a Mac fan since 1984 when I used an SE to create my first ad campaign. Have used their products (nearly exclusively) ever since. I agree: Jobs *could* take an idea and refine it. The GUI was Xerox’ idea — not Apple’s. But he knew enough to use it. I shudder to think what our lives would be like today if not for Steve Jobs. Any single one of his scores of accomplishments would be a crowning achievement in the career of another executive.

  • Anonymous

    Jobs thought constantly and brilliantly about the future of technology, and successfully guided his companies in the directions he foresaw. He was a great CEO, and did a lot more than taking “what was in front of him.”