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

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Recognizing the Need for a Values Statement

How did Apple, still a young company, come to recognize the need for a values statement? Most young companies don’t have a written set of corporate values that lay the groundwork for the culture of the company. There are so many key things that need to get done all at the same time, just for the company to survive, that writing down a set of values seems like a back-burner item.

At Apple, the motivation for creating values guidelines arose out of a negative incident. On February 25, 1981, when the company had been in business for only five years, then-CEO Mike “Scotty” Scott looked out the window of his office early one afternoon and saw about 30 Apple people outside, hanging around, chatting. Nothing unusual about that—when they were struggling over some thorny problem, pairs or whole teams of engineers, in particular, often hung around in the fresh air while they batted ideas back and forth. I have no doubts that many technical problems were probably solved in just that way. On that particular day, Scotty for some reason didn’t read that scene as Engineers at work but, I guess, as something like People standing around wasting the company’s money. He had been frustrated with the failure of the Apple III, blamed mismanagement for this failure, and wanted to make a point. He decided to do that by firing some people.

There was no economic reason for this. Apple was growing at a frenzied pace, with sales booming and plenty of cash in the ...

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