Thursday, October 11, 2012

Inside Apple

I recently had the good fortune to hear Adam Lashinsky, an editor at Fortune Magazine and the author of the relatively new book, Inside Apple, speak about many of the principles revealed in his book. This is particularly timely because October 5th was the first anniversary of Steve Job's passing.

Overall, Lashinsky confirms our perception that Apple breaks rules and does things differently. Below I state a few of the other points I found particularly interesting:

• Apple Managers Micromanage. Steve Jobs was a micromanager and he expected his managers to "micro" too. Adam spoke of a press release that went through an editing process of 17 iterations — with one person.

• Apple is a Very Secretive Culture. Apple management does not want customers, competitors or employees not involved in a particular project to know what is going on. Thus, it is important to keep things secret inside as well as out. Employees do not chit-chat about what they are doing with others. You need to badge in and out of locked-down rooms, where secret projects are under way. Everyone in a meeting needs to be “disclosed” on the topic, if they do not badge in. Jobs threatened to publically fire anyone who violated an employment agreement.

• Apple Sweats the Details. There were 100s of design approaches considered for the iPhone. Sound quality was tested extensively, as was the packaging, how it would be wrapped. The story of whether there should be a plastic or glass screen is legendary. Jobs believed that, in the end, customers don't know what they want, but "we do!"

• Apple Always Appoints a DRI. At every meeting where any project is discussed, Apple always identifies a Direct Responsibility Individual, the guy who is going to oversee getting it done.

• Apple Spends Whatever It Takes to Communicate Right. Lashinsky cited a 30-second wedding video clip that was going to be shown at Macworld. Jobs felt the video submitted was too serious, and he wanted a lighter feel that only Hawaii would bring. So Apple went to a talent agency and found a model who was actually getting married on a Hawaiian beach, sent a crew to shoot it, and he got the mood he wanted.
Many more interesting and relevant points were made. Admittedly, some contrarian principles may only work for Apple and not necessarily for everyone else, but they are worth examining. I urge you to read the book and discover more for yourself!

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