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

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Vision for Innovation

From the early Macintosh days, one of Steve’s favorite lines about innovation was, “The system is that there is no system.” We had processes, of course, but he was fierce about not permitting processes that got in the way of innovation.

Steve expanded on this in a brilliant 2004 conversation with BusinessWeek computer editor Peter Burrows. He told Burrows, “[I]nnovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.”2

Over the years, many journalists and writers have emphasized the negatives of Steve Jobs’ management style, strong personality, and ways of handling people. Despite his many successes, or perhaps because of them, Steve was widely seen as a controversial leader. One blogger on the Harvard Business School website, Bill Taylor, captured the sentiment: “In terms of his approach to leadership, Jobs represents . . . well, if not the worst, then certainly not something worth emulating.”3

My perspective, having worked with him on a daily basis, is different. Yes, he was often difficult, certainly controversial, but when you have the privilege of working for a visionary genius, you don’t let hurt feelings get in the way.

Besides, this ...

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