iPhone 6 etc: Start with Why…

Even the mere mention of Apple technology prompts division. Nowadays that division is between iPhone and Android followers, but ‘back in the day’ it was between PC and Mac advocates. I have never really understood why this company provokes such passionate debate (even though I am avowedly a Mac fan and believe that it is clearly better than PCs etc…). I would have thought there were far more important issues in the world to be passionate about, but, I guess each must chose their own course.

Nevertheless, I am very interested in the direction of the Apple, Inc.

Under Steve jobs, the messianic, genius architect of Apple’s resurrection, the classic ‘One more thing…’ of his Cupertino product announcements became almost cultish. There was feverish excitement as the crowd of Apple employees / tech journalists awaited the big reveal. This unquestioning reverence was no doubt part of what repulsed the Anti-Apple brigade, but putting partisanship to one side, those events were very interesting social phenomena and could not be attributed solely to American zeal surely?

Steve Jobs at Cupertino

I am sure that one of the key elements to Jobs’ success as a leader or even social game-changer was that his pronouncements started with ‘why?’. Each product he introduced was founded on the notion of ‘why’ the public would really want it. Famously, on launching the iPhone, jobs said, “Today we are going to change the way you communicate.” Jobs understood that people would only buy the iPhone if it appealed to their desire to ‘do things better’, they would only buy into it if they understood ‘why’ they really needed to. No matter how good things are people want change if it is for the better and Steve Jobs understood this.

Jobs’ phrase plays around my mind: today we are going to change…

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we were able to say in our schools, “Today we are going to change learning and life chances in our community.” Or if we were able to say to our students and pupils when they arrive in school one day, “Today we are going to change your future.”?

How did Jobs help Apple to be such a game-changing company? Well in part it was because he started by asking ‘why’ anyone would want this particular new product. He didn’t detail what it could do, how it was built, how fast it was or how slim it was. He just asked himself and his design team, why? Crucially then, everything they then did had to contribute to addressing  the ‘why’.

At our school, we use the same question to sharpen our own thinking about any innovation or aspect of our school life. How does it contribute to what we do, what does it benefit that is crucial to children’s learning, why does it make perfect sense for us to take this step?

There will of course be miles of column inches spilt over the new Apple Watch or the merits of iOS8 and iPhone 6, but the success of the products will ultimately rest on whether the case has been made as to why anyone would want these latest gadgets.

Just so in our schools. The success of our organisation, the effectiveness of our innovations, the enduring legacy of lifelong learning and excellence that we provide for each child, will depend on whether we have made the case to colleagues, parents and students alike about ‘why’ we do what we do.



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