Title: The Steve Jobs Way : iLeadership for a New Generation
Authors: Jay Elliot and William L. Simon
Publisher: Vanguard Press, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1593156398, 256 pages
“We’re here to put a dent in the universe,” said Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and then chairman and CEO of Apple Inc. Today, all personal computers incorporate a version of the mouse-driven graphical user interface that Jobs perfected and popularized. The guiding spirit behind the Macintosh computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone and iTunes, Jobs is an American corporate legend. Few people worked more closely with him than Jay Elliot, a former senior vice president at Apple. In this business biography, written before Jobs died, Elliot and co-author William L. Simon detail Jobs’s corporate achievements, his attention to product detail and his visionary leadership. getAbstract recommends their revealing profile to those compelled by or curious about the genius of Jobs.
The Steve and Woz show
In 1971, at age 16, technophile Steve Jobs met computer geek Steve Wozniak. Wozniak and his love of technology impressed Jobs, who sensed that he and “Woz” were soul mates. A few years later, they became partners in a technology start-up, the future Apple Computer Inc. (now Apple Inc.). They made a perfectly complementary team: Wozniak had no business savvy, but Jobs had plenty. When Wozniak built Apple’s first computer, he needed Intel’s expensive DRAM chips. Since Apple could not afford them, Jobs convinced Intel to send him the costly chips for free.
Wozniak loved to tinker with technology and build things. Jobs was a visionary leader who could imagine commercial and product possibilities that no one else could see. “When Steve believes in something, the power of that vision can literally sweep aside any objections, problems or whatever. They just cease to exist,” said Macintosh engineer Trip Hawkins.
Walk in the PARC
Developments at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California sparked Jobs’s imagination. Its researchers were building a new computer to market against IBM’s dominant commercial line. On one visit, PARC’s rudimentary graphical user interface impressed Jobs, who described the device as “insanely great.” Xerox failed to turn its groundbreaking development into a commercially viable product, but Apple developed it into today’s ubiquitous mouse.
At the time that Jobs visited PARC, Apple was focusing on the Lisa computer. Jobs wanted to incorporate some of PARC’s concepts, but his team was already two years into the Lisa. Jobs attempted to get the Lisa engineers to alter their development plans. Loyal to Wozniak, the engineers tried to ignore Jobs. They got away with this bypass because, back then, Apple was a remarkably loose organization with no true command center.
To gain control of Lisa’s development, Jobs tried to get himself appointed as vice president of new product development. Instead, Mike Markkula, Apple’s interim CEO, and Michael Scott, Apple’s president, appointed Jobs chairman of the company. John Couch, who headed the Lisa project, told Jobs to leave him and his engineers alone. Jobs quickly focused on and took over another Apple development project, the Macintosh. Jobs told project head Jef Raskin to develop a cursor control device like PARC’s model. Jobs’s team eventually developed many computer control techniques that today’s users take for granted, including using a mouse to move the cursor, clicking the mouse to select files or text, and dragging icons and files to relocate them.
Jobs lacked technical expertise, but he proved to be a quick learner. He studied every technical aspect of the Macintosh. Before long, he could intelligently discuss the Mac’s most picayune details with its engineers. Jobs directed and oversaw every aspect of Macintosh development.
Jobs set the pattern he would follow in product development for the rest of his career…