Steve Jobs on credit unions 3: Bozo thinking is killing credit unions

“If someone didn’t care to make their product perfect, they were a bozo.”

Steve Jobs did not suffer imperfection—period. A close friend and co-worker of his once used the Bozo comment to describe Jobs’ reaction to anything that was less than ideal. Not only did Jobs demand excellence, he would throw a tantrum to insist a product could be even more foolproof.

In April 1981, Jobs attended the West Coast Computer Faire. Adam Osborne presented the first truly portable personal computer at that exhibition. It was far from perfect, having only a 5-inch screen and hardly any memory, but it worked well enough. Osbourne said this about his new portable computer, “Adequacy is sufficient. All else is superfluous.” As you might imagine, this statement appalled Jobs. “This guy just doesn’t get it. He’s not making art, he’s making shit.”

Soon after, Jobs wandered into the cubicle of an engineer working on the Macintosh operating system. When he griped the prototype was taking too long to boot up, the engineer started to explain why it was so. Before the engineer could get the first few words out, Jobs snapped, “If it could save a persons life, would you find a way to shave 10 seconds off the boot time?” The engineer agreed that he probably could.

Why did Jobs care so much about the 10 seconds? He went to a nearby whiteboard and did the math. If there were 5 million people using a Mac, and it took 10 seconds more to turn it on every day, the extra boot up time would add up to almost three million hours per year. The time was equivalent to a few hundred lifetimes per year. Several weeks later, the engineer did indeed shave 10 seconds off of the boot time for the Macintosh.

Why are some credit unions happy with where they are right now? What’s an extra 10 seconds? When they don’t question the status quo or take an interest in bettering their organization for the sake of improving their members’ lives, it’s the credit union equivalent of wasting lifetimes.

If you’re OK with where your credit union is today, if you are content to brag about your rates, service, or mobile app (not a great app, merely a sufficient app), our friends at Samaha and Associates are waiting to assist your merger. Why prolong it?

If, however, you truly believe there’s a greater calling for your credit union and you are called to do great things, don’t wait for tomorrow. Adequacy is not sufficient. Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. – William James

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: Details