What Labour can learn from Apple

What Labour can learn from Apple

Pagefield General

This month’s Wired has a whole host of articles dedicated to geek god, Steve Jobs. The biggest thinkers from the industry have submitted their own views about just how Jobs has created such a successful, vibrant, creative company.

There’s so much in there for everyone, because, as with all great successes, there is a lot to learn – but there is also the sense with Apple that nothing was handed to them on a plate.  Jobs, Jonny Ives, Wozniak – they all worked at it, hard.  But they had a vision, they had people who were at the top of their game, and these people were given the freedom to lead, and to create.

And now… Labour.  Whenever I read anything about vision, creativity, passion I think: how could a party of opposition use that, how could Labour develop that kind of mentality?  And I think Apple, in its purest form, points the way for a political party looking to recreate and renew.

So with gigantic apologies to Ajaz Ahmed, whose piece on “mastering the entire business” I am about to badly paraphrase (because it made me shiver with excitement), here we go.  If Labour wanted to be like Apple, what three things would it need to do?

1. “Don’t bother to create manifestos, mantras or guidelines – live them.”   Ahmed points out in his piece that big-statement documents are “almost always pointless and dull”.  Instead Apple puts its thinking straight into action so that “all of your behaviour in the organisation becomes intuitive.”  Is Labour living its brand?  Political parties do need statements of purpose and ideals yes, but a clearly defined vision from the top – the three things that must be changed in the UK today – is better than detail at this stage in the electoral cycle.

2. “Less is more.”  Apple pares things right back to their basics.  On that basis Refounding Labour should simply ask the question “why are we here?”  What are the main things this party should be focusing on changing in 2015?

3. “Be hands on – get involved in the details, even if it drives your team crazy.”   This is clearly one for Ed.  I’d take a leaf out of Lord Adonis’ book – get out, see the country, do some work in a Co-op supermarket, in a factory, in an IT firm, in a bank.  See what it’s like – a year-long back to the floor for the opposition’s leader and top team.  Then tell us your policy.  Or treat policy development with a start up mentality – there are so many people outside politics trying to crack some of our toughest social issues in new ways.  Why not bring them into the tent?

What do I know? Not much, but I do know that Apple did not get successful through protracted listening exercises. The boss knew where to go, he set the direction and he took the world with him.