Be a User




Let the postmortems begin.


Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple last week and writers—from the business section to the blogosphere—are speaking already of what is his legacy.


One of the best accounts I’ve read inquired “What Makes Steve Jobs So Great?”


Author Cliff Kuang recounts the first encounter between Jobs and designer Jonathan Ive that ultimately resulted in the release of the iMac—the computer that set Apple on the meteoric trajectory from which it has yet to re-enter the business atmosphere.


“That single moment in the basement with Ive tells you a great deal about what made Steve Jobs the most influential innovator of our time. It shows you the ability to see a company from the outside, rather than as a line manager. That required an ability to think first and foremost as someone who lives with the technology rather than produces it.


People often say that Jobs is, first and foremost, a great explainer of technology—a charismatic, plainspoken salesman who is able to bend those around him into a ‘reality distortion field.’ But charisma can be bent to all sorts of purposes. Those purposes may very well be asinine.


So what gives his plain-speaking such force? He always talks about how wondrous it will be to use something, to actually live with it and hold it in your hands. If you listen to Steve Jobs’s presentations over the years, he comes across not as the creator of a product so much as its very first fan–the first person to digest its possibilities.


Steve Jobs may not be the greatest technologist or engineer of his generation. But he is perhaps the greatest user of technology to ever live.”


Believe it or not, that got me to thinking about church. Weird!


Some of the most creative business entrepreneurs, influential leaders and honest young people I know find church to be irritating at best—irrelevant at worst.


Maybe it is because their experience has largely been with a church that was more like a PC than a Mac—it was designed and delivered by people that have a smug insider vs. insanely curious outsider perspective. It didn’t have a plain-speaking salesperson that was first and foremost a user of the faith themselves.


The leader didn’t vividly describe the possibilities of actually living the faith out in every-day life and work. Sunday had no real relevance to Monday. Or Tuesday for that matter.


Plus, the faith required wading through piles of instructions in a dense instruction manual written by technologists before you could even turn it on!


One of the single greatest attributes of the iMac designed by Jobs and Ive was that it came with a handle on top, which made it easy to get out of the box, and an instruction manual that was pared down to a scant couple of pages that basically said “Welcome.”


Imagine a church run by Jesus’ first fan—a person who sees himself or herself as an avid outsider. Imagine a church that unleashes a faith that comes with a handle, is easy to get out of the box, and just as simple to boot up in daily life.


That would be as radical as the iMac.


My business buddies—and my own kids—would probably go to that church.


Put on your outsider perspective and be a user today.


DO less. BE more



  • Dave on August 30, 2011 at 8:51 am said:

    We got great perspective on this about 14 years ago at a week-end Basketball tourney. We looked up some church times and took some friends along to worship with us. Being familiar with our hymnal, worship was no problem for us. But what an eye-opener to see the confusion and discomfort of our friends who had to decipher the code; hymn #’s v. page #’s added to the management of an insert upon which were some portions of the worship service. Had we not been along as guides, they would have been totally lost, embarrassed, and frustrated. Seeing someone try with futility like that has stuck with both my wife and me.