Working under Apple’s Steve Jobs was awesome but it wasn’t easy, former company chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki recounts.
“Working for Steve was a great experience, great sense of aesthetics, great sense of design,” he said. “Not the easiest person in the world to work for but man he was brilliant.”
Kawasaki explained Jobs had his own way of working.
“He didn’t really believe in sort of hierarchical protocol,” he said.
“The Apple org chart was sort of him with 25,000 direct reports, basically.”
But working with all these Apple employees, Kawasaki said Jobs had “zero tolerance for incompetence”.
Jobs didn’t make the adjustment that competent people can make incompetent decisions.
“Smart people can do dumb things, they can still be smart,” Kawasaki said.
“I don’t think he made that differentiation, you’re either dumb or smart and if you’re smart everything you did was smart and if you’re dumb, everything you did was dumb.”
But this straightforward approach to management made room for some brilliant people who did incredible work.
“On the other hand he enables people to do the best work of their lives because here was a CEO who truly understood quality, and one of the worst things in a career is you work for a CEO that’s clueless,” Kawasaki said.
“If you are mediocre, working for a clueless CEO is good because the CEO won’t know that you’re clueless. But if you’re great, it’s frustrating because the CEO will not be able to tell you that you’ve done something great.”
Apple today, without Jobs, is a different company. It’s missing its x-factor.
“What people expect from Apple is great hardware. Not some decision to open up the architecture,” he said, adding just being able to pick your default keyboard (a recent announcement Apple made) isn’t revolutionary.
“Android have been doing that for years but they [Apple] announce it like it’s a revolutionary new concept.
“The Apple that I remember is they announced some gizmo that is just so cool that you want to stand in line at midnight.
“We haven’t had that reaction lately.”