Are You a Makeover Wizard Ready to Change the World?

How can we as business leaders, facing revenue drops of 10 to 70 percent, become makeover wizards in our industry niche?

Walter Isaacson, in his biography of the late Steve Jobs, points out that although Jobs transformed several industries, he invented nothing. His greatest skill was reading the environment, analyzing products that no longer met customer needs, and finding superior innovations in industries other than his own. He rigorously inserted these discoveries into Apple’s internal company departments, which transformed older, tired products into elegant, simple, and highly satisfying products that surpassed anything his rivals were selling.

He became a product makeover wizard.

I hear Company CEOs and Founders wish they could find their own Steve Jobs, who would invent the equivalent of an I-Phone for their business to make their revenues soar. My observation is that’s like ‘Waiting for Godot.’

Remember, Steve Jobs was not an inventor. He did not invent the personal computer, which Xerox’s PARC pioneered in 1973. He didn’t invent the modern mobile phone either. That was invented by Doctor Martin Cooper in 1973.

The next time you get earful from your management team for not inventing the next I-Phone, tell them to visit the local supermarket and report back on what they see on the shelves. I guarantee they will say that 99.99% of all products are labeled ‘new and improved.’ When was the last time you found in any kind of store a product absolutely different from anything you had ever seen? Let go of the old belief that companies get rich on brand new products all the time. This idea reflects the resistance by some leaders to leaving their comfort zone. Steve Jobs learned what his customers wanted, how to import better external innovation from experts in the environment, and then how to deliver it to customers. Make sure your departmental level managers are doing the same to delight customers.

If you want to increase your company’s sales, use your innate skills to lead your departments in making incremental improvements in existing products by importing superior innovation, which can already be found outside of the walls of your company and become a product makeover wizard like Steve Jobs.


Chas Klivans spent 22 years increasing shareholder value as a Co-Founder and CEO until 2001, when he launched The CEO’s Navigator. The firm has pioneered a business solution called Innovation2 (, which increases company wealth creation and builds management into an A-level business team for small and medium sized businesses. Chas is a frequent advisor, speaker, and trainer for corporations, professional societies, trade associations, family business councils, and an approved Vistage Speaker.

Category: Innovation

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About the Author: Chas Klivans

Chas Klivans combines his survival experiences in hostile territory and careers as a Founder/CEO, Turnaround Expert, and Psychotherapist int…

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  1. This is a critical idea to remember. Most innovations are incremental improvements on what came before. Virtually all major inventions result from ideas already in circulation. As Chas Klivans says, you will be far more successful if you keep your eye on what your colleagues and competitors are doing than if you try to invent something completely new.

  2. Tanis

    December 7, 2011 at 1:19 am

    The really great thing about Jobs is that he learned — and applied it to the “next” thing. Remember how he got ousted in 1985 — there was a big power struggle … according to Wikipedia,  “The Apple board of directors instructed Sculley to “contain” Jobs and
    limit his ability to launch expensive forays into untested products.”. So Jobs went away, started up NeXT and did that until 1996 when Apple purchased NeXT and was brought back as an advisor. He became interim CEO again in 1997. So, keep on innovating —

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