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Steve Jobs, Daniel Pink, and pleasing the masses

Filed under: creativity,leadership — 9:07 pm


Steve Jobs has this Henry Ford quote on his desk:  “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” Although I bristle at the potential arrogance and narcissism, Ford was right.  So was Jobs.  And the world is better for it.

Daniel Pink just wrote a fascinating blog called “The Peril of Giving People What They Want“, where he suggests that trying to give the customer (or critic or congregation or fan) what they’re asking for is not always the best plan because “we don’t often know what we want.”   In many cases, people don’t change the world by simply delivering the next logical step, but by “giving the world something it didn’t know it was missing.”  I’m not a business person, but as an artist and pastor, this is deeply inspiring.  Pink ends with…

“Enhancing a category is cool; creating a category is cooler.  Providing people what they want is a smart tactic; giving people something they didn’t know they’re missing is an even smarter strategy.  Listening to the customer can be helpful; listening to your own voice can be revolutionary.”


  1. It is not arrogance at all, but a statement of fact. Most people are too bogged down in the day to day workings of life to think past what they already know. The great minds are the ones who can visualize something different and then come up with a way to make it happen.

    Comment by Bill Catchings — June 12, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

  2. really thought provoking! So where do you go from that when you are in spiritual leadership?

    Comment by Erin — July 16, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  3. […] Last week I mentioned that Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and Daniel Pink all believe(d) that “asking your customers what they want and then giving it to them” is a flawed, short-sighted business strategy.  Unfortunately, many churches still seem to see themselves in the “pleasing our customers” business.  And every time I hear about church surveys or marketing campaigns, something in me gets really sad.  A couple thoughts… […]

    Pingback by Church Marketing – Pleasing the masses (part 2) « aaron niequist — January 17, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

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