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Interview: Ken Segall

Peter Roper | Feb. 24, 2016
This wide-ranging interview with Ken Segall covers the insights on simplicity discovered while researching his second book and his concept of ‘dual DNA’ that stops simplicity being the default way of doing business… plus his thoughts on post-Jobs Apple and the rumoured car.

At the same time, human beings in the workplace have this amazing ability to make things more complicated, and I think it's because we all want to contribute, we want to show that we can have an impact, or whatever it is, so the more opinions you have floating around, the more difficult it gets to keep something pure and simple. One of Steve's strengths was that he kept the work real small, and gave people real responsibility, and didn't expose ideas to too many opinions. That's a tough one too, because you may get a good opinion from someone, so who do you listen to, and who don't you listen to?

The culture that Steve Jobs instilled, is that still around at Apple from what you can see?

Yeah, I think Steve did a really good job of instilling his values. The executive chain certainly still has his values, and I think as long as those values are there, and everyone's aware of them, and they guide the company's actions, the company will be pretty darned great.

It won't have Steve to guide it. His level of taste was something that was unusual in a CEO, like when it comes to marketing. I don't think their marketing has been as good since he passed away, but the products themselves, I think, are very consistent, so I think the values are there, and that's important.

But over 10, 20, 30 years, when enough people come and go, I wouldn't be surprised if the Apple of the future is very different from the Apple of today. Much as the Walt Disney of today resembles little of Walt Disney's version of Walt Disney.

You're wearing the Apple Watch, and on your blog there are quite a number of articles about it. Has the reception to Watch surprised you?

To a degree. In fact, there's an article brewing inside of me, and I haven't sat down to write it yet, but I've noticed even among Apple fans, supporters and shareholders, a great willingness to have a problem with Apple. I don't know what this is. I think it's a function of a company's success.

Taken to its extreme, I have a friend who's made good money owning Apple stock, and he's an Apple fan. He has a computer and phone, and he's not like a huge techie guy, but he has the products and he owns the stock. When I asked him if he was going to get an Apple Watch, he bristled and he was like, 'I don't need that.' He sort of ranted, and then he actually ended by saying, 'I hope it fails.' I'm like, 'You're a stockholder, why would you hope that?'


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