The Steve Jobs secret formula for success

In his famous Stanford Commencement speech, Steve Jobs talked at length about “connecting the dots”.

He went as far as to say that, “Creativity is just connecting things”.

Unfortunately Jobs was never interviewed about the subject, so let’s see what his contemporaries say…

Google’s “Smart Creatives”

Google’s execs describe smart creatives as intellectually versatile, typically “combining technical depth with business savvy and creative flair… they are the key to achieving success in the Internet Century”. (Detail here).

IDEO’s “T-shaped” talent

IDEO describe T-shaped talent as the backbone of their collaborative culture. T-shaped people have breadth as well as depth, and are better at joining the dots.

CEO Tim Brown goes into detail in this interview. He also says that IDEO, Apple and Nike share the same philosophy.

How does your team fare?

We only have a handful of developers here on the dev team, but we’re fortunate to have a wealth of skills.

1. Business acumen. Three of the devs have their own digital businesses. Another has a degree in business economics.

2. Product.

  • Two of the three most successful product changes in 2015 have been driven solely by the dev team: A/B testing headlines and faster pages.
  • The first step in Metro moving to WordPress was when Hoque suggested to the Managing Director that we build a blogging platform. He built Metro Blogs and now it’s 10% of our traffic.

3. Lean UX. The developers have done more than anyone else to drive mobile-first, A/B testing and guerrilla usability testing.

4. Design. We love the work of the design team but Gareth also has design skills. He did the designs for the 2012 redesign of Metro. It was designed responsively, the first major newspaper to do so. It drive much more traffic than any other Metro redesign.

5. Branding. Gareth and Matt used to work at advertising agencies and have been pushing to put brand at the heart of Metro.

6. Analytics. Most of Metro’s product analytics is done by the dev team. Trending algorithms, scroll tracking, analysis of what users are clicking on…

7. Agile. Hoque and Matt are both certified ScumMasters. Matt has written a book about agile, and founded a meetup about business agility.

8. Management. Three of the devs have been through a year-long DMGT management program.

9. Who knows, non-professional interests might prove useful too. Gareth loves the arts (he’s a doctor of English). Matt loves science and psychology. Between all the devs there’s an interest in sport, entertainment, parenting, travel, err… does booze count?

Beyond connecting the dots

Our ability to not just connect the dots, but turn them into a working product makes us pretty awesome. The highlights from 2015 so far…

  • In 8 weeks we increased clicks on the page by 20% (focusing on engagement, page speed and editorial feedback).
  • In a single two-week focus (SEO) we increased visits by 5%.

Do you have an idea for how we can do more to connect the dots? Leave a comment below.

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