What Makes a Visionary?

The untimely death of Steve Jobs sparked a global outpouring about his legacy. Commenters across all media – conventional and social – paid tribute to this remarkable innovator. Among the many compilations focusing on Jobs’ accomplishments, to name just a very few, were:

And then the tributes followed:

  • The moment of being initiated into the cult
  • Jon Stewart’s video homage
  • Editorials (a sampling from the Kansas City Star here, The Guardian here and the Montreal Gazette here)

In our office, we, too, paused to reflect on Jobs’ impact on what we do. As in most creative shops, our designers work on Macs and many own Macs as their laptop of choice; many use iPhones and even a few (including the boss) are devoted fans of iPads. Our water-cooler talk focused on Jobs’  innovations that we appreciated: the simplicity and grace of Apple’s packaging; the powerful branding that led to Apple’s cultlike devotion; and his genius for applying technology to our lives in imaginative and useful ways.

High-tech innovations seem to come into our lives at light speed these days, but not all are relevant or necessary. Steve Jobs translated that technology into practical tools that are graceful, elegant and genuinely useful, truly fitting the definition of a visionary: someone who ponders the future with imagination or wisdom. He will be missed.

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