I just finished reading Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky and I was struck by two observations:
1: Apple gets a lot of things exactly right and some other things exactly wrong.
Ie- the design-driven development, the commitment to making great products and the pride their employees can take in contributing to that are all fantastic.
On the other hand, Apple’s culture of fear, paranoia and mistrust really comes through in the book. Check out this article about Apple’s secret police.
I think Apple could be even more successful (hard as that is to imagine) without the paranoia and bad behavior shown in the book. However, I think some people will conclude that “Apple are assholes and Apple is successful. Being an asshole makes you successful.”
2: The Apple culture is completely at odds with the Apple brand.
The Apple brand is about individuality and freedom of expression. The Apple culture is about secrecy, uniformity and doing what you’re told. Is that duality sustainable in the long rung? I don’t think so.
Finally, I simply can’t figure out from the book if Apple is a happy or unhappy workplace. It’s clear that employee happiness was certainly never a top priority for Steve Jobs and other top execs. On the other hand, their pride in their products and in working for Jobs’s vision makes them happy.
In any case, read the book – it rocks.