Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Some thoughts on reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs is almost a textbook example of how not to be a CEO. He didnt care about consensus, he was ruthless, and highly emotional - I lost count of the number of times the phrase "Jobs cried" appears in the book.

To balance the volatile temperament, though, he had an uncanny sense of what works and what doesnt, and was exceptionally good at spotting ideas and talent - with a more normal individual in charge, the movie Toy Story wouldnt have been made, Pixar in current form wouldn't have existed, there would be no "Think Different" or "1984" ads, Apple wouldnt have moved into retailing - the list of audacious bets made by Apple and Jobs goes on, and he was right every time.

The thing I enjoyed the most was reading about all the different individuals responsible for so many of Apple's products and functions. Steve Jobs had a vision of the Apple offering an end-to-end experience to the customer, and to that end, they had exceptional coordination between all the divisions within Apple - his belief in "deep collaboration" and "concurrent engineering"  - a lot of large companies actually end up being victims of their own success once they cross a certain threshold, and thats a trap Apple avoided..

Quoting the book: "Our method was to develop integrated products, and that mean out process had to be integrated and collaborative," Jobs said." This is a great example of how organizational architecture matching product architecture! More on this on a later post