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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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Chapter 6

To Protect Innovation, Create a Company within a Company

[I]t’s building an environment that makes people feel they are surrounded by equally talented people and their work is bigger than they are. The feeling that the work will have tremendous influence and is part of a strong, clear vision.

—Steve Jobs1

You can’t throw a stone in Silicon Valley without hitting a start-up, and the same is nearly as true today in New York, Boston, and Austin, Barcelona, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. But the picture is completely different when trying to launch an innovative start-up within an established, traditional company.

In cases like this, the way that you organize is as critical as the people you choose for your organization or the products or services you deliver. Steve Jobs became an icon in part for what he achieved by going against the tide of traditional wisdom about how to run a company. He wasn’t the first to create a stand-alone development group within a larger corporation, but his Macintosh group became the prototype for how to make it happen and how to make it work successfully.

I witnessed that the very week I started at Apple. At Steve’s invitation, on a cloudy Saturday in February 1981, I joined him for a drive to a destination he had carefully avoided naming. It turned out to be a destination featured in every history of Apple. We were headed for the Xerox Corporation’s super-secret Palo Alto Research Center, better known as Xerox PARC. On the way over, Steve told me about ...

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