Posts Tagged ‘Steve Jobs’

Yes, But You Will Know

April 27, 2015 1 comment

In recounting his obsession with quality, I recall an interview where Steve Jobs was telling a reporter about painting a fence with his father when he was a young boy. There was a small section in a corner of the yard, behind a shed and fronted by bushes, that was difficult to lay a brush on. Steve asked his dad: “Do I really have to paint that section? Nobody will know that it’s not painted.” His father simply said: “Yes, but you will know.

It is pretty much a de-facto standard in the C++ (and Java) world that enum type names start with a capital letter and that enumeration values are all capitalized, with underscores placed between multi-word names:

Rotational Status

Now, assume you stumble across some sloppy work like this in code that must be formally shared between two different companies:

Bad Enums

Irked by the obvious sloppiness, and remembering the Steve Jobs story, you submit the following change request to the formal configuration control board in charge of ensuring consistency, integrity, and quality of all the inter-company interfaces:

Change Request

What would you do if your request was met with utter silence – no acknowledgement whatsoever? Pursue it further, or call it quits? Is silence on a small issue like this an indicator of a stinky cultural smell in the air, or is the ROI to effect the change simply not worth it? If the ROI to make the change is indeed negative, could that be an indicator of something awry with the change management process itself?

How hard, and how often, do you poke the beast until you choose to call it quits and move on? Seriously, you surely do poke the beast at least once in a while… err, don’t you?


Harvesting Your Dots

January 26, 2015 2 comments


I never liked Dots. Every time I popped one into my mouth, I thought it might pull out a filling. But artistic dots, now they’re a whole ‘nother story.

In “The Art Of Asking“, Amanda Palmer movingly writes about collecting, connecting, and especially, sharing personalized dot-connected products as follows:

 Collecting the dots. Then connecting them. And then sharing the connections with those around you. This is how a creative human works. Collecting, connecting, sharing. This impulse to connect the dots—and to share what you’ve connected—is the urge that makes you an artist. If you’re using words or symbols to connect the dots, whether you’re a “professional artist” or not, you are an artistic force in the world. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected. – Amanda Palmer

If you think mining and connecting seemingly random dots is difficult, exposing the resultant products for all to see can be downright scary. The fear of rejection is always lurking in the background.

Amanda’s dotty insight reminds me of the greatest commencement address I ever heard – Steve Jobs’s speech to Stanford grads in 2005. In that inspirational talk, Steve chronicled how he unknowingly collected his dots over the years and then serendipitously connected them together into the idea that led to the birth of the world-changing Macintosh computer.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life – Steve Jobs

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m full of… dots. I’ve got a boatload of dots hiding out in the deep recesses of my mind that are just waiting to be internally connected and externally shared. This blog is one catalyst for coaxing some of those cleverly concealed dots out of hiding, connecting them together, and sharing the result.

Collect Connect Share

If you haven’t yet discovered the joy of mining, connecting, and sharing your personal dot collection, isn’t it about time that you made an attempt to do so?

How To, When To

April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

It seems like someone at USA Today has been ingesting contraband. In “Stereotype of computer geeks fades and nerds are cool”, Haya El Nasser opines:

The stereotype of the geeky techie that persists in pop culture is fading in real life, thanks to the legacy of industry giants such as Apple founder Steve Jobs and the increasing dependence of more Americans on the skills of those who know how to make their gadgets work.

Some schools are offering one-day workshops that include tips on “office finesse” and wardrobe and body language and when to talk or when to pick up a dropped napkin when meeting with a prospective employer.

When to pick up a dropped napkin when meeting with a prospective employer? WTF! How about tips on:

  • When it’s appropriate to tie your bib at the dinner table.
  • When to clip your nose hairs.
  • How long to wait before acting on a “there’s free leftover food in the conference room” e-mail.
  • How often to apply deodorant
  • How to emulate a British accent
  • How to eat cake at a going away party
  • When to clap at an all hands meeting
  • How many breaths to breathe before hitting the “send-all” button
  • How not to pile your plate sky high at free lunches
  • How to snicker without getting caught
  • How to detect tattletalers
  • How to carry your coffee cup like Wally
  • How to respond to the “what percent done are you?” question
  • When you can skip washing your hands in the rest room
  • How long to wait before consuming that seemingly forgotten lunch in the fridge
  • When to be fashionably late to meetings
  • How to wordsmith inappropriate questions to the company help desk into benign pleas for help
  • How to <<insert your intractable issue here>>


December 1, 2011 2 comments

Amazingly, I’ve never owned an Apple product. Despite this fact, I admire Apple and the culture that Steve Jobs brutally, but single-handedly, instilled into the company. These excerpts from “Jobs questioned authority all his life” explain why:

Jobs called the crop of executives brought in to run Apple after his ouster in 1985 “corrupt people” with “corrupt values” who cared only about making money. Jobs himself is described as caring far more about product than profit.

He told (biographer) Isaacson they cared only about making money “for themselves mainly, and also for Apple — rather than making great products.”

Despite Apple’s unprecedented success behind Jobs’ “products, strategy, people” credo, most captains of industry and their mini-me clones just don’t get it – and it looks like they never will. I think capitalism is the least inequitable “ism” there is, but extreme capitalism is no better than any other “ism“.


May 12, 2011 3 comments

To function semi-sanely in this world, we all have to make generalizations so that we can make sense of the world and to at least try to be able to predict future outcomes that result from our actions. It’s OK to make them as long as one realizes that there are exceptions to every generalization. There are very few, if any, absolutes in the world. Assuming that one’s personally concocted generalizations are absolutely 100% true all of the time invites “suffering“, no?

Take the mercurial CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, for example. He seems to be at least one exception to my personal generalization that “dictator” bosses can’t be successful in the long term (Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is another exception). Check out these blurbs that I pulled from cyberspace:

I think that one reason why Jobs and Apple achieve the stellar product and financial success that they do is because, even at the lofty CEO level, Mr. Jobs gets his hands dirty – and that endears him to the technical and creative talent that he does retain at the company. Contrast this to a Stalinist brute like “chainsaw” Al Dunlap, who lived in a separate world “above” his people.

How about you? Do you think that my “dictators can’t be successful leaders in the long run” generalization is valid in most cases? What’s your equivalent generalization?

Successful Dictatorship

November 1, 2010 2 comments

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.

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