Jan 18, In his new book, Fortune senior editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky finds out what it’s really In Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired—and. May 9, By Adam Lashinsky For more on Apple, watch this Fortune video: . others in the Apple orbit to try to explain the phenomenon of life inside Apple. . There literally is no free lunch at Apple—though meals are subsidized. Inside Apple has ratings and reviews. Anne said: I read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs before I read Inside Apple. Taken together, b. .
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In the summer ofwhen Apple aapl launched the first version of its iPhone that worked on third-generation mobile networks, it also debuted MobileMe, an e-mail system that was supposed to provide the seamless synchronization features that corporate users love about their BlackBerry smartphones.
MobileMe was a dud. Users complained about lost e-mails, and syncing was spotty at best. Though reviewers gushed over the new iPhone, they panned the MobileMe service. According to a participant in the meeting, Jobs walked in, clad in his trademark black mock turtleneck lqshinsky blue jeans, clasped his hands lasbinsky, and asked a simple question:. For the next half-hour Jobs berated the group.
On the spot, Jobs named a new executive to run the group. That characterization is true, lashineky also is a brutal and unforgiving place, where accountability is strictly enforced, decisions are swift, and communication is articulated clearly from the top.
How doesApple do it? How does it churn out hit after hit? Those are questions Apple has no desire to answer. Fortune conducted dozens of interviews over several months with former Apple employees and others in the Apple orbit to try to explain the phenomenon asam life lashineky Apple.
Few agreed to speak on the record; the fear of retribution persists for years. Once they get talking, however, the former Apple-ites insixe a picture of a company that time and again thumbs its innside at modern corporate conventions in ways that let it behave more like a cutting-edge startup than the consumer-electronics behemoth it is.
Jobs currently is on his third medical leave in seven years—he survived a rare form of pancreatic cancer and later received a liver transplant—and his absence has only fueled the fascination with him.
Jobs is still adqm involved in Apple, of course. Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs on March 2,emerged from a medical leave of absence to introduce the second generation of the iPad. Photograph by Kimihiro Hoshino — Getty Images. So exalted is Steve Jobs that often he is compared, metaphorically at least, to Jesus Christ.
True to form, the shepherd to his Apple flock often teaches in parables. Jobs imagines his garbage regularly not being emptied in his office, and when he asks the janitor why, he gets an excuse: 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.
Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky on Apple Books
ffee Jobs indoctrinates a culture of responsibility by hosting a series of weekly meetings that are the metronome that sets the beat for the entire company. On Mondays he meets with his executive management team to discuss results and strategy as well as to review nearly every important project in the company.
On Wednesdays he holds a marketing and communications meeting. Simplicity breeds clarity, as Jobs himself explained in a interview with Fortune.
I put out an agenda. Eighty percent is the same as it was the last week, and we just walk down it every single week.
The accountability mindset frree down the ranks.
At Apple there is never any confusion as to who is responsible for what. The org chart see next page is deceptively straightforward, with none of the dotted-line or matrixed responsibilities popular elsewhere in the corporate world.
The result is a command-and-control structure where ideas are shared at the top—if not below. Sony, he has said, had too many divisions to create the iPod. Apple instead has functions. Photograph by Robyn Twomey. For Apple the laahinsky is an ability to move nimbly, despite its size.
When it misses a seemingly obvious idea—such as not anticipating the need for an App Store to satisfy the third-party developers who wanted to create programs for the iPhone—it shifts gears quickly to grab the opportunity.
Saying no at Apple is as important as saying yes. Jobs himself is the glue that holds this unique approach together. Says one former insider: There is a small group at Apple that most certainly frfe met Steve Jobs.
Everything about this Top meeting is shrouded in secrecy, starting with its very existence. Those tapped to attend are encouraged not to put the meeting on their calendars. Discussing their participation is a no-no, even internally.
Apple goes so far as to have the meeting rooms swept for electronic bugs to stymie snooping competitors. The Top meeting is an important managerial tool for Jobs. He and his chief lieutenants use it to inform a supremely influential group about whereApple is headed.
The Top meeting is part strategic offsite, part legacy-building exercise. Jobs generally kicks things off personally. Each session is as well crafted as the public product debuts for which the CEO is so famous.
For presenters the career stakes are high, and the pressure is nerve-racking. To be selected for the Top is to be anointed by Jobs, an honor not necessarily based on rank.
Jobs referred to the group, but not the conclave, in an interview several years ago with Fortune. Some of them are just key individual contributors. So when a good idea comes … part of my job is to move it around [and] … get ideas moving among that group of people.
Inclusion is by no means permanent. For those left behind in Cupertino, chattering begins as soon the chosen few have departed. But we all knew. The vibe is the opposite of the jocularity that Google—with its wear-your-pajamas-to-work day and all-you-can-eat cafeterias—has fostered. There literally is no free lunch at Apple—though meals are subsidized and generally quite good.
Yet Apple also consciously tries to behave like a startup, most notably by putting small teams on crucial projects. Times certainly once were tough at Apple, breeding an underdog culture. Apple insiders say the notion of scarce resources has less to do with money than it does with finding enough people to perform critical tasks.
Once Applemoves, though, it spends whatever it takes. It contracted the London Symphony Orchestra to record trailer soundtracks for its latest iMovie software. Years ago it sent a camera crew to Hawaii to film a wedding for a demo video; then, to get a different take, it staged fake nuptials in a San Francisco church, withApple employees playing both guests and the betrothed.
Learning to work at Apple takes time.
To echo its own famous ad campaign, Apple thinks differently about business. Often as not it simply ignores traditional notions of business opportunities. An executive who has worked at Apple and Microsoft describes the differences this way: Apple is just the opposite: It thinks of great products, then sells them.
Prototypes and demos always come before spreadsheets. Tim Cook, whose background is in supply-chain management, handles inventory across the company. Johnson has plenty left to do, including site selection, in-store service, and fre layout.
Jobs sees such specialization as a process of having best-in-class employees in every role, and he has no patience for building managers for the sake of managing.
It is the polar opposite of the General Electric-like notion of creating well-rounded executives. Such rigidity—coupled with the threat of being called on the carpet by Jobs—would seem to insiee Apple an impossibly difficult workplace, yet recruiters say turnover at Apple is exceedingly low. For years Steve Jobs was uninterested in the human resources department at Apple.
Then, three years ago, just before his second medical leave, he hired Joel Podolny, dean of the Yale School of Management, to head something called Apple University.
Download Adam Lashinsky’s ‘Inside Apple’ eBook on iPad
Podolny had been a widely quoted management guru. Yet when he joined Apple, typically, he vanished from sight. No one even seemed to notice when he was named vice president of human resources a couple of years later.
It turns out that Podolny has been busy working on a project that speaks directly to the delicate topic of life at Apple after Jobs. Apple may be a multicellular organism, but its life source is Jobs.
Download Adam Lashinsky’s ‘Inside Apple’ eBook on iPad
For now this is all in the realm of opinion. Jobs himself believes he has set Apple on a course to survive in his absence. He has created a culture that, while not particularly jolly, has internalized his ways.
A version of this article was originally published in the May 23, issue of Fortune. By Adam Lashinsky May 9, According to a participant in the meeting, Jobs walked in, clad in his trademark black mock turtleneck and blue jeans, clasped his hands together, and asked a simple question: