Bill Buxton of Microsoft Research calls Steve Jobs' patents a lesson for CEOs

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Steve Jobs' name wasn't just slapped on a variety of Apple patents, but rather the depth of his contributions as chief executive of Apple offers a lesson for other leaders.



Writing for Fortune, Bill Buxton, a pioneer in human?computer interaction and former researcher at Xerox PARC who is now a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, observed that Steve Jobs is listed as an inventor on 313 patents, and the lead inventor of more than 30.



But Jobs' credits as an inventor or co-inventor among Apple's patents were not just honorific, Buxton wrote. "Based on my own experience, I find Steve's participation entirely credible."



He added, "Apple would be stupid to put anyone's name on a patent, much less a high profile name like Steve's, if that person hadn't made a legitimate contribution. Doing so would not only invalidate the patent, it would expose the company and its brand to serious damage when revealed. Apple is many things; stupid is not one of them."



Buxton noted that while collaborating with Jonathan Ive on over 200 design patents, Jobs still left Ive in charge of design, which he said reinforces the lesson that "you must have a senior design executive, and they must engage at the highest level."



Following Jobs' example, Buxton wrote, "executives need to know their own weaknesses as well as their strengths in order to make sure that all of the requisite ground is covered", offering the recommendation "study how he managed the delegation of those other aspects of the business while he was working with Jonathan and the design team. Then emulate that in managing the things that fall outside of your own personal comfort zone -- such as design, for example."



Buxton concluded, "Steve Jobs was not, and is not, a designer. Nor, I suspect, would he ever describe himself as such. He spoke about Apple's success in terms of curating the customer's experience. I think that is a great way to put it. And so, while I don't consider him a designer, I do believe that he is certainly one of the greatest curators that I have ever met, or know of. And for that, he has always had my respect."



Buxton describes himself as "a relentless advocate for innovation, design, and - especially - the appropriate consideration of human values, capacity, and culture in the conception, implementation, and use of new products and technologies."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    Finally, vindication for the curators of the world.
  • Reply 2 of 51
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,496member
    Time and time again we hear the same tired story of how events should be remembered and applied, and learned from it.



    The reality is most CEO's have zero vision, they know they have zero vision, and their egos will prevent them from admitting it.



    People like Steve Jobs, HP's founders, etc... they were a special breed of people.



    CEO's nowadays simply care about the bottom line, and have zero interest in doing something that actually improves society as a whole. The way the universities pump out MBA's and these clowns think they're ready to lead/create companies is hysterical to say the least.
  • Reply 3 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    But Jobs' credits an an inventor or co-inventor



    Typo #5 today
  • Reply 4 of 51
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,789member
    Sometimes we need to step back and listen to the real experts and innovators. I always get upset by the vitriol spewed at Steve Jobs by the anonymous denizens of tech forums. But then I remember that these types are just know-nothing tools. Their comments are just about as important as the dingle-berries hanging from a cow's behind, mine included. Every real expert in the tech world knows what Jobs accomplished and how he changed the way we live and use technology. Hell even I knew that the first time I laid eyes on an Apple ][+ in 1982 and I'm not that smart.
  • Reply 5 of 51
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,472member
    I have Bill's book, "Sketching User Experiences". He has a large section of the book devoted to Apple and Steve Jobs. His feelings about this aren't new.
  • Reply 6 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ..... who is now a principle researcher at Microsoft Research....



    OK, #6, since we're counting....
  • Reply 7 of 51
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,113member
    Steve jobs is a visionary. He imagines something, then he figures out how to do it. Except he doesn't figure out all the details. He leaves that to his design engineers and then Ive puts it in a pretty package (which probably requires design engineers to figure that part out, too).



    I think Steve truly does see how it would be used, how something could change the world.
  • Reply 8 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post


    Steve jobs is a visionary. He imagines something, then he figures out how to do it. Except he doesn't figure out all the details. He leaves that to his design engineers and then Ive puts it in a pretty package (which probably requires design engineers to figure that part out, too).



    The process is probably quite a bit more integrated than that. Products like Apple's can't arise from a "let the engineers figure it out" kind of process any more than it can form a "have the designer make a pretty package" one.
  • Reply 9 of 51
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    OK, #6, since we're counting....



    Maybe he is researching principles, MS could use some.
  • Reply 10 of 51
    nkalunkalu Posts: 315member
    Straight talk!

    This is saying it as it is.
  • Reply 11 of 51
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Maguro View Post


    Typo #5 today



    Grammar cops are more irritating than typos.
  • Reply 12 of 51
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    That's nice praise coming from a Microsoft employee. Steve was always a hands-on person.
  • Reply 13 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Maguro View Post


    Typo #5 today



    Technically, it's not a typo if it correctly produces a valid word. It's a grammatical error.
  • Reply 14 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Time and time again we hear the same tired story of how events should be remembered and applied, and learned from it.



    The reality is most CEO's have zero vision, they know they have zero vision, and their egos will prevent them from admitting it.



    People like Steve Jobs, HP's founders, etc... they were a special breed of people.



    CEO's nowadays simply care about the bottom line, and have zero interest in doing something that actually improves society as a whole. The way the universities pump out MBA's and these clowns think they're ready to lead/create companies is hysterical to say the least.



    Well said.



    IN the "midst" of the Lionization of Steve Jobs -- we can respect his accomplishments without trying to make him super human.



    His "organization skills" are clearly, to me, his greatest strengths.



    >> But what made Apple Great -- was something that ANY executive or corporation can do; have a mission to do something great.



    These execs have one foot out the door ready to use their golden parachute -- and yes, their major claim to fame is being "well connected." Harvard MBAs do well, because they get open doors from other Harvard MBAs -- but other than an army of people well schooled in "Chicago School" economics, and treating people like Cogs and corporations like ATMs -- I think MBAs are the best way American has invented to suck out the "vision" from companies.



    The iPad was just Job's commitment to doing it right -- no matter how long it took. It isn't especially innovative -- other than being DESIGNED to be a tablet, rather than a dumbed down laptop. It's the execution and the creation of a platform that would permit other to make it great.





    >> Right now, Apple is the biggest company in the world in terms of money -- and they didn't do that by hiring shills to lie about pollution, nor use Futures Contracts to make Gas cost more.



    Whether or not Jobs made his company profitable -- he made a few excellent things that will enhance the lives of a lot of people. Some other company might have eventually created something LIKE the iPhone, or iPad -- but it would have had "features" and no soul.



    It's the "integration" with iTunes, the native development environment, and the attention to detail rather than checkmarks on features lists.



    >> The REALLY innovative thing was getting the licensing deals for iTunes and controlling the iPhone launch so AT&T couldn't make it suck. Jobs was willing to wait to roll out the iPhone to find the right provider.
  • Reply 15 of 51
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post


    Grammar cops are more irritating than typos.



    word. expect less.
  • Reply 16 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post


    Grammar cops are more irritating than typos.



    That's your problem, not the grammar cop's, no?



    As an aside, there's nothing wrong with demanding - no, expecting - that a high-profile, widely-quoted outlet like AI aspire to write better. Better writing (incl. the right grammar, not having typos, good punctuation, etc) is not uncorrelated with clearer thinking.
  • Reply 17 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post


    Grammar cops are more irritating than typos.



    I would beg to differ.
  • Reply 18 of 51
    Are these accolades like this and a few other recent similar stories because Steve Jobs is now resigned from Apple and "peers", for a lack of a better word, are reflecting so Steve can appreciate their sentiments or do some within the inner circles know more than the average folk?



    Karma-nizing 'well wishes and good health to one Steve Jobs'... join me people, Good Karma is a good thing.

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  • Reply 19 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    That's your problem, not the grammar cop's, no?



    As an aside, there's nothing wrong with demanding - no, expecting - that a high-profile, widely-quoted outlet like AI aspire to write better. Better writing (incl. the right grammar, not having typos, good punctuation, etc) is not uncorrelated with clearer thinking.



    Not really, since it clogs the thread.



    Has anyone ever posted a good sentence and complimented a writer here, by the way?



    Also, should we start quoting each other's posts whenever there is a typo just so everyone knows?



    If one wants to constructively criticize the orthography then he or she should email the editors, really.



    I hope someone finds and points out several typos in this post.
  • Reply 20 of 51
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    OK, #6, since we're counting....



    Maybe not, perhaps Microsoft decided to develop the principles they were lacking, so set up a department in order to do so.
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