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.
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.
The company was under financial pressure and much of this pressure came down on the heads of the Division’s leaders, Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith.
The new president, Doug Norby, wanted to bring some discipline to Lucasfilm, and was pressing Catmull and Smith to do some fairly deep layoffs. The two couldn’t bring themselves to do it.
But Norby was unmoved. He was pestering Ed and Alvy for a list of names from the Computer Division to lay off, and Ed and Alvy kept blowing him off. Finally came the order: “You will be in my office tomorrow morning at 9:00 with a list of names.”
So what did these two bosses do? They showed up in his office at 9:00 and plunked down a list. It had two names on it: Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith.
Remember, there are many great managers out there. If you work for one who isn’t great, don’t just accept that as the natural state of things. Do something about it.