"He started the whole bloody thing. Period. Steve's body of work will have influenced the transition to a world of user-friendly computation," Mr. Peters says. "He'll have defined an age. If we love Nokia today, it's because we love Apple."
In Mr. Peters' 11th book, "Re-Imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age" (DK Publishing, 2003), Mr. Jobs plays a starring role as a successful visionary who has woven design into the heart of his business. The book's robust layout and analysis of design practices in business are a sharp departure for Mr. Peters, who co-wrote the business classic "In Search of Excellence" with Robert Waterman.
"Business at its best is not dry and drab and dreary and by the numbers," Mr. Peters says. "It's about people and energy and life and service and creativity."
And, Mr. Peters says, in hatching this book it dawned on him that "if that's the case, the business books that I was producing, as well as others, don't convey that message."
At the urging of his wife, Susan Sargent, an artist and home furnishings and textile designer, Mr. Peters says he hooked up with DK, known for its design-driven books.
"I'm not arguing we got it right, but we sure as heck produced something that doesn't look like someone else's business book," he says. "It tries to convey from Page 1 the energy of business."
The result is a book that pops with neon colors, playful fonts and oversize photos. The foreword, titled "I'm Mad as Hell," screams from black type across a red page.
It's all meant to reinforce Mr. Peters' message that design permeates everything in business, from customer service to how companies treat their employees and their hiring practices. He calls it "design mindfulness. It's when design pervades the way the enterprise lives and works," he says. "Apple being the classic example."
In "Re-Imagine" there's a Steve Jobs quote that sums it up: "In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. Nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a manmade creation."
From the earliest Apple and Macintosh computers to today's iPod and iMac, Mr. Jobs' "crystal clear product vision is apparent," Mr. Peters says. And while not every Apple rollout was a success, Mr. Peters says, throughout it all there were always Apple fanatics and Mr. Jobs with his unwavering spirit.
"You see people who do cool things and you see people who do usability things," Mr. Peters says, adding that Mr. Jobs "does both. He's the Renaissance man in the truest sense of the word. If Bill Gates is buying up Michelangelo's diaries, then Steve Jobs is Michelangelo."