CXO

Ten leadership lessons from the Steve Jobs school of management

What Walter Isaacson's biography of Apple's co-founder can teach about doing business the right way...

...the iPod design team to keep simplifying the process of selecting and playing music on the device - he wanted it to take a maximum of three clicks. The iPod was not the first MP3 player on the market by any means but it was the first to make 'ease of use' a design principle.

Apple iPod

The iPod: A success born of Jobs' integrated visionPhoto: Apple

This 'design first' principle did sometimes have unforeseen consequences - as with problems caused by the antenna design of the iPhone 4. But ultimately, Apple's iconic brand status is a direct result of Jobs championing great design - and understanding that user experience is something that can and should be designed.

6. Structure: Collaborate, integrate, connect

Jobs structured and aligned Apple under the same principles he used when designing products - fashioning the company as an integrated whole, not a series of siloed functions. This structure was crucial to giving Apple the ability to both tightly focus and move quickly.

"Because he believed that Apple's great advantage was its integration of the whole widget - from design to hardware to software and content - he wanted all departments at the company to work together in parallel," writes Isaacson. "The phrases he used were 'deep collaboration' and 'concurrent engineering'."

"Jobs did not organise Apple into semi-autonomous divisions; he closely controlled all of his teams and pushed them to work as one cohesive and flexible company, with one profit-and-loss bottom line," Isaacson adds. "Instead of a development process in which a product would be passed sequentially from engineering to design to manufacturing to marketing and distribution, these various departments collaborated simultaneously."

This connected structure was the reason why Apple was able to create a successful, integrated digital music player and online song store - the iPod and iTunes - when Sony, a rival with the assets to do the same, simply couldn't deliver in the same way.

Making Apple into an integrated whole meant divisions and departments were not competing against each other and wasting effort pulling in different directions. All effort was aligned under Jobs' leadership and employees were able to spend less time worrying about each other or department-specific budgets, and more time concentrating on creating the products and services that delivered Apple's goals.

Jobs also took an integrated approach to hiring. "When we hire someone, even if they're going to be in marketing, I will have them talk to the design folks and the engineers," Isaacson quotes Jobs as saying.

Integration extended to the whole product experience. Jobs thought about every detail from the packaging of a product to the advertising to even the retail experience - the first Apple Store opened in 2001. By controlling the whole process from product manufacture to marketing to sales, Jobs was able to ensure customers got a joined-up experience of Apple.

The result of all this integration was not only...

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