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Dental Design the Steve Jobs Way

October 9, 2011

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Marketing — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 10:08 PM

An Elite GroupThroughout the past week the Internet has been filled with blog posts concerning the death of Steve Jobs.  Like  everyone in America, I too am a big fan of what he created.  For years I have been calling him our modern day Thomas Edison.

Everything that needs to be said has already been said as noted by my friend’s blog post at Spear Education.  Most of the references to Jobs have centered around the world of business…what a great leader, and what a great marketer he was.  And yes, that is all true, but just as Edison was primarily a great inventor, Jobs was primarily a great designer who truly understood what humans wanted and needed at a practical level.

And he delivered.

That is his greatest lesson for dentists.

Steve Jobs understood what “design” means.  He understood “form follows function,” where others just give it lip service.

I will never forget his keynote speech introducing the iPad2.  The entire presentation was designed (yes doctors, his presentations were designed as well), around function; how the new iPad worked.  He subtly mocked his competitors because he knew what his audience wanted and he delivered it—so many improvements over the original iPad and yet all he kept saying was “It just works.”

Clear and concise: “It just works.”

Form follows function.

Read what Steve Jobs said about design in a New York Times article written in 2003 titled, The Guts of a New Machine:

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Design is how it works…makes us wonder about the cosmetic dentistry revolution, and about what Peter Dawson has been preaching for the last thirty years.  People really want dentistry that works, that lasts…quality dentistry.

First you have to design it…then you have to sell it ( the idea, I mean).

And Jobs was good at that too.  He was a master presenter, an impressive storyteller who painted crystal clear images with extraordinary graphic design.

So what can dentists learn from Steve Jobs?

Hopefully I have given you two things…become a great dental designer by deeply understanding examination and treatment planning skills and second, take your presentations very seriously.

I have created another blog called Casepresenter.com which explores all the nuances of effective dental case presentation.  Please visit and contribute your thoughts and ideas.

One more thing.  I am a frequent visitor to Amazon.com.  Some months ago I noticed that Walter Isaacson, the author of Ben Franklin’s  and Einstein’s bio’s, was writing the first authorized biography of Steve Jobs.  The publication date was March 2012.  Over time I noticed the date was moving forward.  That combined with his departure from Apple in August should have tipped me off to his imminent death.

I can’t wait to read Isaacson’s book, due out at the end of October 2011…that will surely tell dentists what we could learn from Steve Jobs.


  1. The design idea it works to make more effective about the cosmetic dentistry revolution. Thanks to Steve Job inspired two things: become a great dental designer by deeply assessment and management planning skills and the presentation were designed as well. How to make an effective dental case presentation?

    Comment by Dental Management — October 13, 2011 @ 12:02 AM

  2. What Jobs taught is that design is ubiquitous. Everything can be designed…

    Comment by Anonymous — October 14, 2011 @ 1:50 AM

  3. I appreciate this fresh look at Steve’s philosophy and how it can extend to careers even outside the tech industry. I wonder how many dentists San Jose has that can boast to have such a thoughtful approach! Makes me think of some very different questions I can ask when I look for my next dentist. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Comment by Sanfranbaygirl — October 14, 2011 @ 5:52 PM

  4. We can only guess what Steve’s philosophy really was…we will find out much more when Isaacson’s book comes out. He certainly is one of my heroes and hopefully can convince dentists to take a serious look at his leadership skills. Of course I am concerned with my own industry that sorely lacks leadership, but as you write…maybe the financial sectors, government and education could look at his example.
    I am sure San Jose has some very fine denists, but patients will have to very very discerning in choosing one…maybe Mac users are more attuned to high quality and customer service.
    Thank You

    Comment by Anonymous — October 14, 2011 @ 7:25 PM

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