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

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Flying a Flag

When you give a team a distinctive identity, magic can happen. Steve had created a special aura that made every individual on the Macintosh team feel they were contributing to something unique.

One aspect of what the Mac team was achieving that we didn’t recognize at the time had to do with the term heroes. Probably coined by some long-forgotten journalist, the most brilliant innovators of Silicon Valley had come to be crowned by having this word attached to them. But the term had been applied almost exclusively to innovators on the hardware side. One of the most overlooked aspects about what made the Macintosh so unique was its many software innovations. Over time, several of the team’s greatest contributors on the software side would start being referred to as software heroes.

One day, one of those future software heroes, Steve Capps, had a flash of inspiration: If the Mac team was a band of Pirates, their building should fly a Pirate flag. He bought some black cloth, sewed it into a flag, and asked Mac graphics designer Susan Kare to paint a big skull and crossbones in white at the center.

The timing was perfect. That decision by Steve several months earlier that the Mac team should have their own building, to make them even more clearly separated from The Navy bureaucracy of the rest of Apple, had just come to fruition: The building conversion had just been completed and everything was ready for the troops to arrive. (Though Steve Jobs’ day-to-day work involved ...

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