What it means to be Apple – Part 2

Products before Profitability -
When describing his period of exile from Apple — when John Sculley took over — Steve Jobs described one fundamental root cause of Apple’s problems. That was to let profitability outweigh passion: “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. The products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything.”When he returned, Jobs completely upended the company. There were thousands of layoffs. Scores of products were killed stone dead. He knew the company had to make money to stay alive, but he transitioned the focus of Apple away from profits. Profit was viewed as necessary, but not sufficient, to justify everything Apple did. That attitude resulted in a company that looks entirely different to almost any other modern Fortune 500 company. One striking example: there’s only one person Apple with responsibility for a profit and loss. The CFO. It’s almost the opposite of what is taught in business school. An executive who worked at both Apple and Microsoft described the differences this way: “Microsoft tries to find pockets of unrealized revenue and then figures out what to make. Apple is just the opposite: It thinks of great products, then sells them. Prototypes and demos always come before spreadsheets.”  -James Allworth (HBR Blog Network)

Do What is Right -
During Apple’s memorial service for Jobs, Cook said the following about Jobs to the audience: Among his last advice he had for me, and for all of you, was to never ask what he would do. “Just do what’s right.” Jobs’ intention was that the company should avoid the fate of Disney after the death of its founder, where “everyone spent all their time thinking and talking about what Walt would do.”

Hardwork  -
Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day. He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be. – Mona Simpson (Steve Jobs sister).

Beautiful Later -
His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.” Steve always aspired to make beautiful later. He was willing to be misunderstood. -  Mona Simpson (Steve Jobs sister).

References:

  • http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/10/steve_jobs_solved_the_innovato.html
  • http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-11-01/news/30346113_1_steve-jobs-olivetti-computers/3
  • http://crave.cnet.co.uk/laptops/jobs-told-cook-dont-ask-what-would-steve-do-50005798/

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