I’ve just finished one of the most enthralling and educational books I’ve read in a long time. I’m almost sad to put down the biography of the late, great Steve Jobs. How many times can we sing kudos to this fellow, who in many ways, people loved and hated at the same time? By many accounts, he was often a very unpleasant person to be around. He didn’t seem to possess the “empathy gene” that I believe is 100% necessary to be a truly happy human being, and in most cases, a successful leader. However, he was obviously a visionary, marketing genius and the king of detail.
A few things stand out to me about the word “team”, when thinking about what I’ve read these past several days.
1 – Many times throughout his career Jobs was quoted as saying that Apple believes in, and stands for, the intersection of Science/Technology and The Humanities. Even in his dying days, he reiterated to his biographer that this one thought, perhaps more than anything else, was inherent in the DNA at Apple. This collaboration between two often disparate fields guided Jobs’ focus, drive and vision that led to the creation of highly innovative products –products that changed the world. Jobs specifically sought to build teams consisting of only the best employees in both these areas of expertise. Jobs realized that at the end of the day, it is nearly always about teamwork and collaboration and only the best of the best would suffice. Hence, my next point.
2 – Steve Jobs, in designing the headquarters for both PIXAR and later APPLE, was emphatic in his belief that the more technology driven we become (even at Apple!), the more important it is to NOT rely on the phone, email, texts etc. as our main means of communication when trying to GET SOMETHING DONE or to CREATE something new. He said, “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and ichat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings and random discussions. You run into someone, ask them what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow’, and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.” Therefore, the driving sentiment behind the design of these two complexes was the creation of a layout which not only encouraged collaboration, but made it nearly impossible to NOT run into employees from other areas of the company-employees you wouldn’t ordinarily see because they worked for a different part of the company. The campuses were designed around a central atrium specifically designed to encourage random encounters.
3 – Along the same lines, unlike the vast majority of large companies that exist in a structure with multiple entities under a corporate umbrella-all with their own leadership and P & L, APPLE operates without divisions. All employees work with one P & L, which makes it easier to interact with, and pass ideas back and forth among what would otherwise be separate departments or divisions. This feature also helps keep all parties focused on the same goals and deadlines, rather than competing ones. The engineering departments work hand in hand with the design departments at Apple. This integrated approach is key to the success of all the company’s products and operating systems. Jobs’ team approach is representative of the way the people behind the products work to make this the most valuable Tech Company in the world.
I highly recommend this book.