Fortune has a great article titled ‘Inside Apple’ in its May 23 issue. It offers a superb look at some of the inner workings of the massively successful company, the unique Apple company culture and philosophies, and of course some great anecdotes about Steve Jobs. Here are some of the bits that struck me the […]
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Gems & Tidbits from Fortune’s ‘Inside Apple’ Article

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Fortune has a great article titled ‘Inside Apple’ in its May 23 issue. It offers a superb look at some of the inner workings of the massively successful company, the unique Apple company culture and philosophies, and of course some great anecdotes about Steve Jobs.

Here are some of the bits that struck me the most in the article:

— Steve Jobs knew MobileMe sucked when it launched in 2008, and blew up about it:

Steve Jobs summoned the MobileMe team to the Town Hall auditorium on Apple’s (AAPL) Cupertino campus for an obscenity-laden dressing down. According to a participant in the meeting, Jobs walked in … clasped his hand together and asked a simple question: “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” Having received a satisfactory answer, he continued “So why the fuck doesn’t it do that?’

“You’ve tarnished Apple’s reputation,” he told them. “You should hate each other for having let each other down.” On the spot, Jobs named a new executive to run the group.

— The Difference Between a Janitor and a VP:

Steve Jobs is said to often teach his Apple ‘flock’ with parables, including one called ‘The Difference Between the Janitor and the Vice President’ – a sermon he apparently delivers every time an executive reaches the VP level.

It starts with the garbage in Jobs office not being emptied regularly. He asks the janitor why, and the janitor offers up an acceptable excuse (the office locks had been changed and he doesn’t have a key). “When you’re the janitor”, Jobs has repeatedly told incoming VPs, “reasons matter”. He continues “Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering. That Rubicon is crossed when you become a VP.”

— Thinking Different:

There aren’t any committees at Apple, the concept of general management is frowned on, and only one person, the chief financial officer, has a “P&L’, or responsibility for costs and expenses that lead to profits or losses. Most companies view the P&L as the ultimate proof of a manager’s accountability; Apple turns that dictum on its head by labeling P&L a distraction only the finance chief needs to consider.

“Steve would say the general manager structure is bullshit”, says Mike Janes, the former Apple executive.

— Knowing when to say No:

One of Apple’s greatest strengths is its ability to focus on just a few things at a time … Saying no at Apple is as important as saying yes. “Over and over Steve talks about the power of picking the things you don’t do.”

— The difference between Apple and Microsoft:

From an executive who’s been at MS and Apple – I think this one is maybe one of the single biggest contributors to Apple’s greatness in the consumer electronics arena:

“Microsoft tries to find pockets of unrealized revenue and then figure out what to make. Apple is just the opposite: it thinks of great products, then sells them. Prototypes and demos always come before spreadsheets.”

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— The enormous impact of Steve Jobs on Apple:

Every conversation with insiders about Apple, even if it doesn’t start off being about Jobs, eventually comes around to him. The creative process at Apple is one of constantly preparing someone – be it one’s boss or oneself – for a presentation to Jobs.

Jobs himself is the glue that holds this unique approach together. Yet his methods have produced an organization that mirrors his thoughts when – and this is important – Jobs isn’t specifically involved. Says one former insider: “You can ask anyone in the company what Steve wants and you’ll get answer, even if 90% of them have never met Steve.”

The whole Fortune article is a fantastic read if you’re interested in Apple and what drives their phenomenal success. You can read the May 23 issue in the Fortune iPad app ($4.99 per issue) or in the print edition.  

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