My new book, Think Simple, will be published on June 7th. While my previous book focused on the power of simplicity as practiced by Steve Jobs and Apple, the new one goes further. I sought out more than 40 practitioners of simplicity in a range of companies around the world. Here’s one of them…
If you follow Apple, you probably know the Ron Johnson story. He’s the guy Steve Jobs brought in when he decided that Apple needed a retail presence.
Steve was impressed with Ron’s resume. After all, Ron was the guy who transformed Target from a fledgling department store to something more contemporary. He turned it into a cooler place to shop.
So Ron put together a team and worked with Steve to develop the Apple Store concept, and he credits the success of the stores to the power of simplicity. I spent a morning with Ron talking about the days when the Apple Store was just a germ of an idea.
He explained that a clear mission is an essential element of simplicity, and so the first order of business was creating a mission for the Apple Stores. It was wonderfully stark: “Enhance lives.”
That’s what Apple products were about, and the Apple Stores would be the place where customers come face-to-face with the Apple brand.
When a company has a simple mission, decisions come easy. In developing the Apple Stores, every major decision was evaluated against the mission—from the size and location of the stores, to kind of people who were hired. If an idea wasn’t consistent with the mission, it got nixed.
At this point, Ron has a most interesting perspective on simplicity. Besides guiding Target and the Apple Stores to success, this year he launched a new fast-growing company called Enjoy—which is being propelled by its own simple mission (cleverly hidden in its name). He’s also able to talk about the dangers of complexity, given his less-than-satisfying experience as CEO of JCPenney.
Ron has a terrific story to tell—with appearances by the light of simplicity and the dark cloud of complexity.