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Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success by [Segall, Ken]
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Length: 234 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. It was also a weapon. Simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple—it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011. Thanks to Steve Jobs’s uncompromising ways, you can see Simplicity in everything Apple does: the way it’s structured, the way it innovates, and the way it speaks to its customers. It’s by crushing the forces of Complexity that the company remains on its stellar trajectory. As ad agency creative director, Ken Segall played a key role in Apple’s resurrection, helping to create such critical marketing campaigns as Think different. By naming the iMac, he also laid the foundation for naming waves of i-products to come. Segall has a unique perspective, given his years of experience creating campaigns for other iconic tech companies, including IBM, Intel, and Dell. It was the stark contrast of Apple’s ways that made Segall appreciate the power of Simplicity—and inspired him to help others benefit from it. In Insanely Simple, you’ll be a fly on the wall inside a conference room with Steve Jobs, and on the receiving end of his midnight phone calls. You’ll understand how his obsession with Simplicity helped Apple perform better and faster, sometimes saving millions in the process. You’ll also learn, for example, how to:
• Think Minimal: Distilling choices to a minimum brings clarity to a company and its customers—as Jobs proved when he replaced over twenty product models with a lineup of four.
• Think Small: Swearing allegiance to the concept of “small groups of smart people” raises both morale and productivity.
• Think Motion: Keeping project teams in constant motion focuses creative thinking on well-defined goals and minimizes distractions.
• Think Iconic: Using a simple, powerful image to symbolize the benefit of a product or idea creates a deeper impression in the minds of customers.
• Think War: Giving yourself an unfair advantage—using every weapon at your disposal—is the best way to ensure that your ideas survive unscathed.Segall brings Apple’s quest for Simplicity to life using fascinating (and previously untold) stories from behind the scenes. Through his insight and wit, you’ll discover how companies that leverage this power can stand out from competitors—and individuals who master it can become critical assets to their organizations.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 714 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0064W5V5C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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I took away from this book an appreciation of simplicity as was the authors intent and it did provide some insights as to hard hard making simplicity can be.
But the book reads as if it were written by apples PR team and that detracted from the overall reading experience.
If you like reading stories about how Apple operates then this book will be fun but otherwise there is way to much apple worship going on here.
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NOT insanely simple writing. Conveys "simplicity" very well along with first-hand examples but often rambles. Including the views of other Apple employees would have given a more complete and interesting picture and made it a "book" rather than a high school essay.
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Format: Kindle Edition
there is so much filling in his book that i gave up.
the author did have some good points but they are drowned in complex stories: the exact thing the author was trying to inspire us overcome. pity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars 172 reviews
106 of 124 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Steve stories but too much filler material 29 April 2012
By John Chang - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book needs a dose of its own medicine. The previously unpublished stories about Steve Jobs and Apple are real gems. But in much of the rest of the book, the author mostly invokes a silly narrative of battle between Simplicity and Complexity and falls back to insipid conclusions such as "Simplicity attracts" and "Simplicity has universal appeal". Well, of course. We don't need the author to persuade us of that.

The author compares Apple to companies like Dell and Intel, which have confusing product portfolios and marketing messages. But why do they? The author credits Steve's direct involvement in the creative process and lack of patience for big meetings and formal presentations. He explains that in a good working relationship, both sides are upfront and don't withhold problems from each other, and this creates the best results. Beyond that, there's not much more insight or deep ruminations about the nature of simplicity, which I would have appreciated. I know from experience [I worked at Apple during the second Steve era] that simplicity is rarely just a matter of wielding the Simple Stick, as the author seems to suggest. (Even when it is, it sure helps to be the CEO.)

I can imagine this book started out as a personal collection of Steve stories--for which I would have gladly given 5 stars. At some point, some publisher or marketing person probably decided that this book wouldn't appeal to the masses unless it were written as a management book, so as it stands, this book also tries to dispense business advice. A Steve quote (ironically, included in this book) comes to mind: "Get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff."
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity." Oliver Wendell Holmes 17 June 2012
By Robert Morris - Published on
As Hannibal Lector explains to Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, the Roman emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, endorsed the idea of focusing on the essence of a subject. The French later formulated the concept of the précis. Still later, Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, "I would not give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity." All this serves to create a context, a frame of reference, for Ken Segall's brilliant analysis of what drove Steve Jobs to create an insanely great company that continues to produce insanely great products.

As Segall explains, "Simplicity doesn't spring to life with the right combination of molecules, water, and sunlight. It needs a champion - someone who's willing to stand up for its principles and strong enough to resist the overtures of Simplicity's evil twin, Complexity. It needs someone who's willing to guide a process with both head and heart." These are among the passages, themes, and concepts that caught my eye throughout Segall's lively and eloquent narrative:

o Standards Aren't for Bending (Pages 15-16)
o Small Groups = Better [Collaborative] Relationships (35- 38)
o The Perils of Proliferation (52-54)
o Thinking Different vs. Thinking Crazy (74-77)
o Simplicity's Unfair Advantage (93-95)
o Never Underestimate the Power of a Word (123-125)
o Death by Formality (132-135)
o Technology with Feeling (138-140)
o Ignoring the Naysayers: Inventing the Apple Store (180-184)

I have read all of the books written about Steve Jobs and Apple and reviewed most of them. In my opinion, with the exception of Walter Isaacson's definitive biography, none provides a more thorough explanation of Jobs's values, standards, and motivations than does this one. As Segall suggests, Jobs's greatest achievement is that he "built a monument to Simplicity."

As Jobs invariably had the last word at the conclusion of conversations and meetings, it seems appropriate that he also have the last word now:

"Simplicity can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains."
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Substance-free book full of unthinking adulation of Steve 5 November 2013
By Vaddadi Kartick - Published on
I picked up this book with high expectations, but once I read half-way through, I was impatiently waiting for the end, and was relieved when I finished it.

Much of the book is unthinking adulation of Steve. I like and respect Steve as much as anyone, but I don't want read 200 pages of what comes off as a somewhat unthinking worship of the man. There's little new here for someone who has followed Steve's life, or read his stories, or read Walter Isaacson's book (which I recommend over this one any day). Speaking of which, there's none of the criticism of Steve that "Jobs" had, without which this book ends up sounding like one-sided fan worship, and not insightful at that, either.

The book has a little too much of "us vs them" undertones for my taste, as if it's from an Apple fanboy blog like Daring Fireball or Marco. By all means, point out where other companies fail, but don't be so disdainful of other companies.

Most of the chapters contain little substance and could just as well be expressed in a single page. The conclusion, where the author summarizes each chapter in half a page, is perhaps the most interesting part of the book. But even that was too long, to be honest.

The other flaw with this book (and I read this criticism elsewhere) is that it chooses one theme -- simplicity -- and attributes all of Steve and Apple's successes to it, in the typical MBA style. This is a stretch. One could just as well credit any of the other gifts Steve had for this -- one could image books titled High Standards, Taste, An Eye For Detail, How to Inspire People, etc.

Some of the author's conclusions are also open to debate with the passage of time and change of market conditions. For example, the author says that the iPhone and iPad are so successful in the market because of simplicity. But remember that the book was released a couple of years back. Now, I have to disclose that I work for Google, but since Android outsells iOS in both phones and tablets, and Samsung's satisfaction ratings exceeded the iPad's, and Samsung was more profitable than Apple, does it mean that simplicity doesn't work after all? This is the problem with the kind of facile analysis the author does.

Finally, the author is an ad man. So it's not surprising that he doesn't have much insight into the hardware, software or user experience design at Apple, and how they have able to build such great products. If you're looking for that, look elsewhere.

As a final note, the books covers little of what makes Apple (as opposed to Steve) able to do what it did. When it does cover Apple, it paints a picture of a politics-free utopia. Maybe that's true at the CEO level, with whom the author interacted a lot, but given that the company employs thousands of people, that's hardly a complete picture. What's unique about Apple itself -- its processes, values, the way it's managed, etc? The book doesn't say.
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best book I've ever read for my business 5 October 2014
By packattack12 - Published on
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This is the best book I've ever read for my business. I'm only a quarter of the way through it too. I use a highlighter and highlight the great quotes from Steve himself and also the incredible tips that Ken gives. For those people that say he drags on while writing, I have to disagree. I think he's a great story teller and can really paint a picture in my head of what is really going on. A+ read for any business that is looking to grow and operate in a simplistic way!
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, and very well written 14 December 2013
By just another geek - Published on
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Certainly a great book for any Apple fan, but anyone who is open-minded will find many important lessons here.

I say open-minded because it seems people either love Apple, or they find any excuse to disrespect the company; there is no middle ground. Obviously I'm in the former camp.

While written from a marketer's perspective, the attitudes and philosophies of the companies mentioned -- it's not just Apple in here -- permeate the company. If something sounds insane about the process a company uses in marketing, you can bet dollars to frozen yogurt that similar insanity exists in their other processes as well.

Even if marketing isn't your thing (as it isn't mine), this eminently readable book has much to teach.