Print 41 comment(s) - last by Guspaz.. on May 10 at 3:08 PM

Steve Jobs proved his dark side powers by bringing Apple back from the dead -- a seemingly impossible feat.  (Source: Fortune)
Clearly Jobs has little mercy for incompetence

Love him or hate him, you have to admit Steve Jobs was responsible for almost single-handedly righting the ship at Apple, Inc. (AAPL), saving the company from bankruptcy.  Thanks to a revitalized Mac lineup and an armada of i-devices, Apple has surpassed Microsoft in profits and market cap and gained dominant positions in a couple of critical sectors, including online music and tablets.

So how did Mr. Jobs accomplish the seemingly Herculean task of fixing the badly broken company?  If a new report is to be believed, the answer may be -- by acting as an exacting and unforgiving "dictator".

It's little secret that working at Apple is one of the toughest assignments one can take on professionally.  But Fortune magazine's Adam Lashinsky offers all the juicy details regarding why that is the case.

According to the report Jobs gives every incoming vice president at the company a speech on why they cannot rely on "excuses" and "reasons".  He says these things are important for hourly employees, but unacceptable for managers.  Writes Mr. Lashinsky:

Jobs imagines his garbage regularly not being emptied in his office, and when he asks the janitor why, he gets an excuse: The locks have been changed, and the janitor doesn’t have a key. This is an acceptable excuse coming from someone who empties trash bins for a living. The janitor gets to explain why something went wrong. Senior people do not. "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," he has said, “is crossed when you become a VP."

And Mr. Jobs was true to his word -- he accepted no excuses for poor performance.  The story recalls the launch of the iPhone 3G with MobileMe in 2008.  MobileMe was supposed to be a service that synced your calendars and more to an online cloud for accessibility from anywhere.  But at launch the service proved ugly, marred by crashes and bugs.

Mr. Jobs called an emergency Town Hall meeting with all members of the MobileMe team.  Outraged at the problems, he complained that the MobileMe team was "tarnishing Apple's reputation" and that they "should hate each other for having let each other down."  He added, "[The Wall Street Journal's Walt] Mossberg, our friend, is no longer writing good things about us."

Writes Mr. Lashinsky:

An exasperated Mr. Jobs remarked "Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?"

Having received a satisfactory answer, he continues, "So why the f*** doesn't it do that?"

Mr. Jobs then cleaned house, relieving all the MobileMe managers of their duties and installing new managers on the spot.

In the kingdom of Jobs every Monday the chief meets with executives to review every important meeting.  On Wednesday the company holds its marketing and communications meetings.  

At Apple those meetings represent the ying -- technical professionals -- and yang -- creative professionals.  Apple gives its creative professionals as much license as its technical professionals, or more, in some cases.  For example the head of Apple's online content has no control over what images get posted to Apple's website -- that's almost entirely in the hands of the company's graphic artists.  

And it offers those artists a virtual blank check to "perfect" projects -- for example it hired Hollywood camera crews to film a pair of fake weddings in Hawaii and San Francisco (the San Francisco one used Apple employees as extras) for iMovie.  The iMovie soundtracks were contracted, at great expense, to the London Symphony Orchestra.

Despite the sometimes conflicting interests of the technical and creative staff, there's seldom clashes, thanks to Apple's carefully spelled out documents which detail the DRI ("directly responsible individual") for every item in a project.

All of this precision gets back to Mr. Jobs.  Writes Mr. Lashinsky:

The creative process at Apple is one of constantly preparing someone — be it one's boss, one’s boss’s boss, or oneself — for a presentation to Jobs. He's a corporate dictator who makes every critical decision — and oodles of seemingly noncritical calls too, from the design of the shuttle buses that ferry employees to and from San Francisco to what food will be served in the cafeteria.

Given Mr. Jobs health problems, their leader's eventual demise is a thought that has plagued many at Apple.  

Mr. Jobs, himself, reportedly handpicked the dean of Yale's School of Management, Joel Podolny, to both head Apple University (Apple's internal training programs), and lead a group of business professors (many of whom were from Harvard) to collect case studies to be used after the CEO's death.  Mr. Job's goal is to make sure that even when he dies, that he lives on in the company's leadership and management style. 

Fortune magazine's app is available for free here for Apple iOS devices.  The latest issue with the full report can be bought as an in-app purchase for $4.99.  It's free for the publication's subscribers.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Commodus on 5/9/2011 10:45:35 AM , Rating: 3
Invariably, someone's going to come into this post and insist that Jobs is an evil, evil person for doing this... and will forget why Apple is succeeding where Microsoft and RIM are falling flat.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer is known for sometimes laying down the law, but he's also infamous for being too soft on failure and refusing to fire an executive unless there's a major incident. Executives can fail spectacularly at a project and just take on a role of similar importance at another project. Roz Ho wasn't doing well at the MacBU, so where does she go? The Kin phones. We know how that ended.

And RIM... well, that desire not to offend anybody is why you have two CEOs, multiple executives with similar roles, and a directionless company. It's all about having something nice to say and not about actually making a good product.

Sometimes, you have to crack down to spur people to do better. Jobs knows this, and even Google's Larry Page seems to get this in a way Eric Schmidt didn't.

By kattanna on 5/9/2011 11:34:43 AM , Rating: 4
yep, and when jobs finally leaves apple, i fully expect the company to suffer for it.

By icanhascpu on 5/9/2011 3:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt that. Jobs has employed a large set of people and filtered and forged them to make a company that understands business and how to spearhead new markets to the point their devices nearly become synonymous with the general term of the device.

By rtk on 5/10/2011 1:36:17 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure you've read this article.

By Calin on 5/10/2011 2:43:59 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but all those people might leave the company (or be thrown out) if Steve Jobs is no longer there and the Board of Directors will take hasty decisions from a reason or other (future possible antitrust litigation from the U.S.? A seemingly "flop"? A quarter with not so good prospects? The first quarter when Apple doesn't beat analysts expectations?)
Many good companies were broken by their shareholders' meetings and decisions, and Apple could still become one.

By priusone on 5/9/2011 11:45:39 AM , Rating: 2
It amazes me to watch corporate and/or government employment practices. It sucks when competent employees have to rely on an incompetent manager getting promoted out of their section before they can get a great manager who can truly lead them. Or the employee who will sabotage others work so he or she looks better. I kinda like how each project has the responsible parties name right on it. Sounds like the 'Good ol Boy' club would have a hard time working at Apple, but I could be wrong.

By paydirt on 5/9/2011 12:21:23 PM , Rating: 2
Who knows?

All I know is that I endeavor to live without excuses. I don't believe in excuses. Either make things happen or don't and live with whatever consequences there are.

By maven81 on 5/9/2011 11:50:46 AM , Rating: 5
I would agree that apple has been successful because of jobs, but not because he cracks the whip, rules with an iron fist, or has this fall on your sword mentality. Keep in mind two things, first he's always been like that, and in the early 80s caused some spectacular failures. Second he's not the only CEO with this kind of attitude, remember Carly Fiorina? She almost completely derailed HP.

The reason apple has been successful is quite frankly because Jobs is a BS artist. (How quickly people forgot the Intel "slug" ads when Intel became apple's best friend, or the fact that Jobs poo-pooed video on handheld devices, raved about a 3ghz power pc chip that never materialized and on and on). The margins on their products are higher then most tech companies I can think of (except maybe those that sell printer ink?), thanks to their marketing about how their products are magical, revolutionary and so on.
Jobs also has a knack for stealing ideas and pretending he invented them. Or he simply buys companies that came up with a technology he wants (take multitouch for example). One could keep going here, but you get the idea. He's simply the best snake oil salesman that ever lived. So in the end this has nothing to do with making better products or anything like that.

By Commodus on 5/9/2011 1:46:34 PM , Rating: 2
Windows revenue declined in the most recent quarter. Its phone market share is declining *despite* Windows Phone 7 (which I like). The company so very clearly wants to be in mobile, both phones and tablets -- Windows 8's main thing will be a tablet-optimized UI.

Apple now outpaces Microsoft in market cap, revenue, and profit, and it sold more tablets in nine months than all of Microsoft's partners did in eight years from when Tablet PC hit in 2002, even with Gates' personal obsession with forcing pen-based tablet computing into the mainstream.

A good business never assumes it can ride a successful business for all eternity. That's you're doing. Windows will forever be successful... until the industry changes and it's suddenly not that important. Ask RIM how well it's doing by assuming its supremacy in mobile corporate e-mail would last forever. Acer's PC market share collapsed because it kept assuming people would "come to their senses" and drop their iPads to buy Aspire One netbooks forever.

The key is not how many people you fire; it's that you chew people out if they fall short, and if an employee continually shows no signs of getting better, you fire them. You don't do what Microsoft does and keep them circulating in the company until they retire or commit an unforgivable offense. Do you think Kin would have ever survived getting to the store as-is in Apple's corporate structure?

By Gzus666 on 5/9/2011 2:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you always fail at reading comprehension? He didn't claim "Microsoft fails", he stated Apple is better where they fall short. If you really think their mobile business is going well so far, you have blinders on. I have never used the product, so I can't comment on that, but clearly it isn't selling that well.

The point is, just cause you are a giant today, doesn't mean you won't become irrelevant tomorrow. Like it or not, Apple products are moving into businesses very quickly. Most engineers I see, many of them software, are using Macintosh. We aren't talking little companies here either. Cisco is moving almost entirely to Mac. The server space is also moving away from Microsoft with Linux/Unix slowly being phased in instead of Microsoft. Cisco used to use Windows Server for their call platforms and many of their other products, that is no longer the case. Most companies are migrating away from Microsoft when they make their own platform.

The point is, Microsoft really needs to fill in the gaps in a changing world. Their old business model isn't going to work forever. People want tablets cause let's face it, most people don't do anything that useful that requires a full fledged computer most of the time anyway. As for the nerds, clearly OSX is appealing to them since it is a Unix back end with a compatible front end for most programs. All the joys of *nix without the hassles.

Microsoft's old model of everyone upgrading their Windows version every time they buy a computer is under siege if Mac keeps growing at the rate it is now. Companies are allowing Apple products into the ecosystem and many people are going to start taking them. With how Apple kicks people out when they get into power, they may end up designing their own office suite (iOffice, I'm going to have to patent that quickly) and then leaving MS out of the desktop space. Honestly the only thing keeping MS wedged in the corporate world at that point would be AD and Exchange.

By Gzus666 on 5/10/2011 9:39:50 AM , Rating: 3
I think this is wishful thinking on your part. You seem to blindly hate the company so much that you fail to see they are a real competitor. I want MS to keep competing so we still have a full market. Saying Apple does badly with hardware is clearly biased, as they do just fine with hardware.

You are correct, they still don't have a massive business sector share, but they are moving up very quickly. I seem to remember Android having a laughable share of the phone market and was said to be going nowhere against the mighty RIM and Apple, oh how the mighty have and will fall.

I work with people who use OSX and they never touch Windows. Believe it or not, that isn't a requirement anymore. If it wasn't for the obnoxious buttons on the left side of the window just to be different and the weird menu system, I would probably be using it too. There are probably customizations I could do, but I haven't cared enough to look yet. An OS is a means to an end, not a damn sports team. You use whatever works best for you and it is starting to look like OSX works better for a lot of people.

I know deep down you want MS to win cause you basically a MS fanboy. It shows through in everything you say. You even go against the basic facets of capitalism just for them. The market is speaking and they like Apple more, get over it, you aren't on the MS board and you don't win anything if they do better.

By Guspaz on 5/10/2011 3:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
Let's be fair, OSX's buttons aren't on the left side to be obnoxious, they're there because they've BEEN there since 1984 when MacOS first shipped, and they were there before on the Apple Lisa from 1983, on which development started in 1978. People often seem to forget that the Lisa/Mac operating system was around before Windows. It's not a matter of wanting to be different, it's a matter of "if it ain't broke" and UI continuity.

By Da W on 5/9/2011 3:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
We should stop comparing Apple and Microsoft. Apple rely as much on computers than Microsoft does on phones. One is hardware, one is software. They evolved to be different companies.

Microsoft does fail on MANY MANY attempts to copy successful products, and they don't really create anything new. Sure the past 2 years have been different with Windows 7 office 2007&2010, windows phone 7 and xbox Kinnect. These are good products. But they don't all sell well.

By Calin on 5/10/2011 3:01:55 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe because Office 2000 and Office 2003 and Windows XP (and even Windows Vista, in its late incarnations) are "good enough" products for a lot of people. As hardware slowly became "good enough" for many people, so has software. I'm using Firefox 4 and 3, but I still find Firebird 0.7 (the predecessor to Firefox) completely usable for many tasks.

By robinthakur on 5/10/2011 6:12:16 AM , Rating: 3
Apple is not surviving, it is thriving in a way Microsoft can only remember. Look to the investors and they can see the swiftly declining returns from Microsoft and its halved capital resources spent on nothing of consequence.

Once they don't own the OS on your device, they cease to be important or valuable to the end user. Microsoft is not a phone company, or a music company. They also aren't a tablet company (in the successful form of tablets anyway) They have completely lost out in the mobile device category, which is growing exponentially whereas the traditional home pc market has been in the doldrums for a long time, yet they continue to throw good money after bad either for appearances sake, that they can't afford to be seen as being left behind, or to prevent the whole market forgetting they exist.

Microsoft have proven time and again, even when they do have a good product that they don't know how to market it to the intended audience or they don't have the confidence. See Zune, Kin, Vista, Windows Phone 7, tablet PC's, the list is getting quite long, and the effect this must have on their employees is palpable.

Yes they have Windows Phone 7, but when even your good self, who appears to be a rabid fanboy says it's "honestly pretty decent" that is why they are failing. Pretty good gets left behind real quickly when the marketplace is so crowded. There is also the fact that MS have failed so many times in the past in the consumer space that the public are reluctant to give them another try. Instead they should have made a version more palatable to business. It would have done really well with its sharepoint integration, but if they can't even see that, what can one do?

Managers are not regular joes making an honest wage. They are extremely well remunerated when they succeed, so the price for failure should be equally high. If more managers were treated in that way in the financial sector, you might find we aren't in the mess we're all in.

By xaders on 5/10/2011 2:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
apple is taking what old & is new again with the right timing and this is the same with google. microsoft doesnt have leadership or someone who is a " visionary " ie; apple has steve job, google has larry page, facebook has mark zuckerberg which all are the founders of the company. microsoft got left to " stupid " steve ballmar who just sit there & not a good promoter.

the roles are reserved in just 10 years because in the 2000s, if there was a press conference & what would get attention was bill gates & steve jobs. now, it is still steve jobs and add larry & mark into the picture. in this age of who can make a build "mouse trap" in the cat & mouse product cycle. just hope that microsoft dont become legacy like ibm is. it is no longer " Wintel ," which both companies has problem launching product in mobile products or markets because of legacy & high power devices. also, maybe a decade of anti-trust might play a role in it because microsoft is no longer made up of engineers & instead lawyers.

id would continue have microsoft & windows but when it coming to mobile like cell phones, ill used google & htc ones. id have an macbook pro with dual with both osx & windows 7. hope that microsoft get it act together & change or adapt.

By therealnickdanger on 5/9/2011 10:00:37 AM , Rating: 5

RE: Behold...
By B3an on 5/9/2011 11:25:10 AM , Rating: 4
I was really disappointed with that South Part ep... they had a great opportunity to really make fun of the retarded things Apple do. It could have been comedy gold and Jobs could have been portrayed as some kind of sith emperor, or a million other funny things. Instead he was just pretty normal.
Or maybe the makers simply realised Apple would sue as usual if they went too far.

RE: Behold...
By priusone on 5/9/2011 11:38:31 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you about that episode. But, like every series, you get the mostly good with the occasional bad. I just hope that the bad stays that way.

RE: Behold...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/9/2011 12:00:53 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah I think Tray and Matt know a bit more about what makes a good episode than you. If it had been nothing but a half hour Jobs bash fest, it wouldn't have been funny and it would have put off like half their audience.

South Park episodes have a story to them, not an agenda. The Jobs/Apple stuff was funny, and they could have gone further, but that would have taken from the story. Which was Cartman getting "fu%$%" by his mom :P lol

RE: Behold...
By priusone on 5/9/2011 12:35:08 PM , Rating: 2
I just can't quite figure out the CentiPad. Sure, I get the whole "It can't read" part. Okay, so, um, there is an iPhone on the head, then stitches, more stitches, and an iPad. What am I missing, or is there nothing there?

Sure, B3an and I may lack the skills of Trey and Matt, but given the insane amount of ways to bash iFans, how exactly did the CentiPad accomplish that? iFans buy into a lot of Job's sh!t, but they don't eat it. Perhaps they are hinting at how spineless most iFans, at least the ones I have met, are. Any guesses?

RE: Behold...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/9/2011 12:44:27 PM , Rating: 2
Well first off nobody was even shocked or surprised when he revealed the Centipad, that unholy abomination. In fact, it was CHEERED lol. The analogy there was pretty clear; Apple fans will eat up anything. And the world media will herald anything Jobs does as a smash hit, no matter what.

RE: Behold...
By 3DoubleD on 5/9/2011 1:07:53 PM , Rating: 2
Google "The Human Centipede" if you don't understand where that south park reference came from.

Otherwise, as someone else pointed out, the points was that no one was surprised/disgusted/disappointed by the centipad when Job's unveiled it. Showing the effect of the Steve Jobs reality distortion field, ect. A direct reference to the distortion field would have been nice, but overall I really enjoyed the episode, especially how they made iTunes out to be the worst program ever... which it is.

RE: Behold...
By priusone on 5/10/2011 2:32:48 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, I knew I was missing something. And now I get to kick myself for not putting it all together. Thanks 3DoubleD

On a side note, since shows like South Park and Family Guy parody such a large spectrum of events, it would be interesting to see a list of shows or events to look at prior to watching the episode. I didn't understand the whole 'Dawg' hall monitor episode until I watch the Dawg Bounty Hunter. I saw the episode about the Perians before I saw 300, so imagine my confusion. Even worse, I can't watch Family Guy without my netbook right next to me and the pause button at the ready.

RE: Behold...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/10/2011 8:31:52 AM , Rating: 1
Even worse, I can't watch Family Guy without my netbook right next to me and the pause button at the ready.

That's why I don't watch family guy. An avalanche of pop-culture references that have nothing to do with the story, if there even IS a story, does not make me laugh. I mean, how many David Hasselhoff cracks do they really expect people to sit through?

I didn't understand the whole 'Dawg' hall monitor episode until I watch the Dawg Bounty Hunter.

LOL yeah me and a friend were watching "Cripple Fight" when I started laughing uncontrollably. The fight scene was an exact parody of the one in B rated sci-fi cult hit "They Live". He didn't get it though until I played the They Live fight scene for him, then he laughed too.

RE: Behold...
By AstroCreep on 5/9/2011 12:45:11 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I'm sure many of us would have enjoyed that, they have a point with people agreeing to EULAs and other various "Agreements" without reading them. Seriously, as an IT professional who worked in the heyday of adware/spyware removal(Bonzai Buddy, Smiley Central, Weather Bug, etc) I used to see it all the time; people would install things without reading the EULA and are then SHOCKED by the fact that they are getting pop-ups, redirected web searches, etc. If you would have read the EULA you would have known.

...but then again, I don't think reading the EULA would have stopped many of them from installing these programs anyway. :p

a good CEO
By Da W on 5/9/2011 10:12:04 AM , Rating: 4
As a stockholder this is what i would want from a CEO. And he is right that once you're a VP, being paid such incredible salaries, you gotta take full responsability for your duties and if people below you screw up it means YOU screw up. if only we could see that kind of behavior in government...

Same would apply to Jobs though. If Ipad/iPhone sales go to a stop on day and Apple got nothing new, i except him to get the boot.

RE: a good CEO
By Taft12 on 5/9/2011 3:18:30 PM , Rating: 2
I can't believe a comment defending Jobs' actions is voted up, but you are exactly right that Apple's success can be attributed to the kind of behaviour described in this article.

When Jobs is gone, his replacement won't have the same power and Apple will fade over time (as Microsoft is now, and Sun, DEC, SGI, Nortel, etc did before them), but there will be another younger company to take their place. It's always been this way in the tech industry.

RE: a good CEO
By icanhascpu on 5/9/2011 3:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
MS nor Apple are going to 'fade' anytime soon. Your personal perception ~= reality.

We will see facebook fade (jesus, please be soon they are ripe to implode) way before then. Google, Apple, and Microsoft, Intel will be here for decades as large figures regardless of CEO infamy.

RE: a good CEO
By someguy123 on 5/9/2011 9:08:26 PM , Rating: 3
I agree that, when you're in those types of positions, you should be taking responsibility for all things below, and that Jobs has the right mindset for his underlings, but Apple's success is definitely not attributed to Job's behavior.

People seem to easily forget that the Apple of yesteryear struggled to survive, even when Jobs was at helm, all because Apple is currently in a dominant position. Apple's success can be attributed to their shift as a computer company to a branding and advertising company. Their products are so ingrained in society as "high end" that they are treated as such without question (I am not bashing their products, this is just the truth).

Jobs has the right idea, but he doesn't appear to take his own advice. He doesn't take any responsibility for his failures, unless you consider firing a fleet of employees taking responsibility. The mobileme incident is a good example, as well as the antennae incident. Massive bugs and general instability are not small, easily overlooked issues when launching a product, and in the antennae case he literally let it pass and then fired the designer who brought up the problem in the first place after it became a miniscandal. Thanks to their ironclad reputation within the general public, though, Job's lack of quality oversight has no effect on their bottomline.

By EasyC on 5/9/2011 11:48:53 AM , Rating: 5
This is ironic coming from a man who's the first to offer an "excuse" or "reason" when customers have problems with his products.

Let me guess "You're just hearing it wrong".

Double Standards?
By perfixalot on 5/9/2011 1:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
So, has he fired all doctors who couldn't deliver a cure for his sickness, has he crushed all medical companies for failing to make him immortal?

Did he fire himself when his MobileMe team failed, since he is ultimate responsible for that team's results?

Sure excuses and explanations are abused and misused far too often, but there are always some things that cannot be controlled, foreseen or done flawless, so it all depends on the situation and your values how you perceive the responsibility and potential blame.

Not All Steve's Work
By PapaBear on 5/9/2011 2:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
Not to hate on Jobs, but you have to admit that Apple's rise from the (almost) ashes wasn't all his work. Let's not forget that Microsoft invested $150 million in 1997 to assit Apple from bankruptcy so that Office 98 wouldn't go to waste.

By delphinus100 on 5/9/2011 5:18:57 PM , Rating: 2
"The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am!"

work related illnesses
By CityZen on 5/9/2011 12:05:01 PM , Rating: 1
With such an attitude, it's no wonder he developed cancer

Dear Mr. Jason Mick,
By ashtonmartin on 5/9/11, Rating: -1
RE: Dear Mr. Jason Mick,
By rtk on 5/10/2011 1:44:11 AM , Rating: 2
So, Steve will live forever?

(When there were only one set of footprints, that's when Steve carried you.)

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki