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'Insanely Simple' book review

£15 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Penguin Group

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

Ken Segall's entertaining and instructive book 'Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success' reviewed.

There are plenty of books about Apple and Steve Jobs, especially since his death last October. Indeed, I’m surprised there aren’t more.

There’s also already two Steve Jobs movies in the works.

The big book, of course, is Walter Isaacson’s best-selling Steve Jobs biography. But there have been a rash of others trying to tell the story of what is now one of the world’s most successful companies and how it got there via the genius of Jobs.

See also: Apple A-Z

Some claim to give you a real glimpse into Apple, such as Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky. The author of that volume is a journalist who has interviewed a bunch of former Apple employees, so gets some insight into the internal works of the company.

Iasaacson’s Steve Jobs biography is as close to the man himself as any book will get, but the latest Apple blockbuster is actually written by one of the people closest to the Jobs revolution.

Ken Segall was a creative director and writer at the Chiat/Day advertising agency, favoured by Steve Jobs on his triumphant return to Apple in 1997. Segall also worked for Chiat and Apple under Jobs’ best-buddy-turned-assassin John Sculley.

Ken was not just an observer. He co-wrote the seminal Think Different commercial. If that’s not close enough to the Apple story for you, consider the fact that Ken also named the iMac – and so set in turn the naming of just about every ground-breaking Apple product thereafter (iPod, iPhone, iPad, iLife, etc). Reel in horror when you learn here how Steve Jobs wanted to call it "MacMan"...

He worked with Steve not just at Apple, but also at NeXT. Who knows, there’s probably a Pixar Toy Story character based on him, too…

Ken Segall’s new book, Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success, is therefore a must-read for all Apple fans and students of design, technology and business.

The point of Insanely Simple is, well, simple. Apple got back on top of the tech and business worlds by replacing big-business complexity with simplicity.

The book is made up of ten chapters, each outlining how to think and act simply, with some corking tales of Steve Jobs in action.

In the opening chapter ‘Think Brutal’ Segall attacks the myth that Jobs was merely a sociopathic boss. Steve said what needed to be said to push his team to deliver the best possible results: “Clarity propels an organization” and compromise brings in harmful complexity.

In ‘Think Small’ Segall tells us how Apple operates through meetings of small groups of smart people. Smaller groups are more focused, and smarter people do higher quality work. Simple.

‘Think Minimal’ looks at how Apple demonized proliferation and cut back its products and messages to ensure clarity of purpose, communication and understanding.

‘Think Motion’ looks at how “simplicity never stands still”. Jobs acted swiftly when he regained control of his company, and Apple has kept ahead of the pack by thinking and acting simply and decisively, refusing to let complexity set in.

Insanely Simple is at heart a business book pushing Apple’s anti-complexity theme. It’s full of simple advice about how to keep things simple.

It’s also a mini history of Apple post-1997, and a cracking collection of Steve Jobs stories that only someone in the same room can properly convey. Even if you've read The Isaacson biography of Jobs there's plenty of new, often hilarious tales here.

Segall writes as concisely and simply as this story deserves, and it’s also pretty funny – as you’d expect from the man who worked on all those witty (if sometimes brutal) Apple ads. His spoof Apple rumours blog Scoopertino is well worth subscribing to.

Insanely Simple is a joy to read for all Apple fans, and inspiring for managers and marketers of businesses large and small.

“Simplicity requires only your understanding, commitment, and passion – though a certain degree of Jobs-style relentlessness will greatly assist,” concludes Segall.

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  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

Insanely Simple is your first step to achieving success through simplicity. Don't just pretend to be Steve Jobs. Learn simplicity through observation. Forget other books that pretend to understand Steve Jobs and Apple. This one is simply the best.

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