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Successful Dictatorship

I’m intrigued by, and respectful of, enigmatic guys like Steve Jobs. Despite reports of being an explosive control freak and a micro-manager, he continuously inspires his troops to greater heights. John Sculley, the CEO at Apple Inc. before Jobs seized the reins, gives a fascinating interview about his time at Apple and working with Mr. Jobs in this blarticle: “John Sculley On Steve Jobs“.

On the dogmaticthe customer is always right” theme:

He (Jobs) said, “How can I possibly ask somebody what a graphics-based computer ought to be when they have no idea what a graphic based computer is? No one has ever seen one before.”

On bucking the traditional advice to avoid micro-managing your people:

“He (Jobs) was a person of huge vision. But he was also a person that believed in the precise detail of every step. He was methodical and careful about everything — a perfectionist to the end.”

On leadership skills:

“He (Jobs) was extremely charismatic and extremely compelling in getting people to join up with him and he got people to believe in his visions even before the products existed.”

On the “bozo” (lol) issue:

“The other thing about Steve was that he did not respect large organizations. He felt that they were bureaucratic and ineffective. He would basically call them “bozos.” “

On the dogmatic “leaders should remain cool, composed and unemotional at all times (to feign an image of complete self-control)”:

“Steve would shift between being highly charismatic and motivating and getting them excited to feel like they are part of something insanely great. And on the other hand he would be almost merciless in terms of rejecting their work until he felt it had reached the level of perfection that was good enough to go into – in this case, the Macintosh.”

On the natural entropy-driven deterioration of once vibrant orgs into corpricracies:

And you can see today the tremendous problem Sony has had for at least the last 15 years as the digital consumer electronics industry has emerged. They have been totally stove-piped in their organization. The software people don’t talk to the hardware people, who don’t talk to the component people, who don’t talk to the design people. They argue between their organizations and they are big and bureaucratic.

On the “power of less” and beating complexity into submission with simplicity:

He’s a minimalist and constantly reducing things to their simplest level. It’s not simplistic. It’s simplified. Steve is a systems designer. He simplifies complexity.

Being a biased and incorrigibly self-serving bozeltine myself, I cherry-picked this Sculley quote for last to promote my real agenda:

Engineers are far more important than managers at Apple — and designers are at the top of the hierarchy.

  1. wizzenfish
    November 1, 2010 at 7:48 am

    “…Many years ago, I climbed the mountain, even though it is forbidden…But things are not as they teach us…For the world is hollow, and I have touched the sky…”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsOdYvyaDuM (scroll to 5:35)

    • November 1, 2010 at 8:26 am

      “For things are not as they teach us” – lol. Nice “twitch” acting job.

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