THE REAL LEADERSHIP LESSONS OF STEVE JOBS
"Thepeoplewhoarecrazyenough thinkthey to canchange theworldarethe oneswhodo."
-Apple's "Think Different"commercial, 1997
entrepreneurial creation myth writ Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents' garage in 1976,was ousted in 1985, retumed to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997,and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into theworld's most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing. He thus belongs in the pantheon of America's great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney. None ofthese men was a saint, but long after their personalities are fargotten, history willremember how they applied imagination to technology and
HIS SAGA IS the large: Steve
mention every Pixar film. And as he battled his final illness, Jobs was surrounded by an intensely loyal cadre of colleagues who had been inspired by him for years and a very loving wife, sister, and four children. So I think the reallessons from Steve Jobs have to be drawn from looking at what he actuallyaccomplished. I once asked him what he thought was his most important creation, thinking he would answer the iPad or the Macintosh. Instead he said it was AppIe the company. Making an enduring company, he said, was both far harder and more important than making a great producto How did he do it? Business schools will be studying that question a century from now. Here are what I consider the keys tohis success.
In the months since my biography of Jobs carne out, countless commentators have tried to draw management lessons from it. Some ofthose readers have been insightful, but I think that many of them (especially those with no experience in entrepreneurship) fixate too much on the rough edges ofhis personality. The essence of Jobs, I think, is that his personality wasintegral to his way of doing business. He acted as ifthe normal rules didn't apply to him, and the passion, intensity, and extreme emotionalism he brought to everyday life were things he also poured into the products he made. His petulance and impatience were part and parcel ofhis perfectionism. One of the last times I saw him, after Ihad finished writing most ofthe book, I asked him again about histendency to be rough on people. "Look at the results;' he replied. "These are all smart people I work with, and any of them could get a top job at another place if they were truly feeling brutalized. But they don't:' Then he paused for a few moments and said, almost wistfully, "And we got some amazing things done:' Indeed, he and Apple had had a string ofhits over the past dozen years that wasgreater than that of any other innovative company in modem times: iMac, ipod, iPod nano, iTunes Store, Apple Stores, MacBook, iPhone, iPad, App Store, OSXLion-not to
94 Harvard Business Review Aprll
When Jobs retumed to Apple in 1997,it was producing a random array of computers and peripherals, inc1uding a dozen different versions of the Macintosh. After a few weeks of productreview sessions, he'd finally had enough. "Stop!" he shouted. "This is crazy:' He grabbed a Magic Marker, padded in his bare feet to a whiteboard, and drew a two-by-two grid. "Here's what we need;' he dec1ared. Atop the two columns, he wrote "Consumer" and "Pro:' He labeled the two rows "Desktop" and "Portable." Their job, he told his team members, was to focus on four great products, one for eachquadrant. Allother products should be canceled. There was a stunned silence. But by getting Apple to focus on making just four computers, he saved the company. "Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do;' he told me. "That's true for companies, and it's true for products:' After he righted the company, Jobs began taking his "top 100" people on a retreat each year. On the last...
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