While Steve was running NeXT, he and I had a conversation that I thought odd at the time. Now, though, I understand.
His conversation was all about Apple. It was clear he was keeping very closely in touch with what was going on, showing a lot more knowledge about the internal workings than he could have learned from reading newspaper and magazine articles. Talking as if he was still at Apple, he complained that the products were bad, and buyers didn’t have the old passion for the company and its products. He complained there were too many products and that it was a mistake to try to turn out products for every market group—personal, education, business, and so on. And he complained that the computer stores still stocked Apple products in the corner, practically out of sight, because dealers could make more money selling Windows machines.
Later, when Steve returned to Apple and was named the interim CEO, nobody had any doubt the culture was going to be changing. He had several key priorities. Foremost, get the organization back to being focused on product. Then find the right talent, organize those people in small teams, and restructure the product lines. In a very short period of time, Steve was able to reorganize the company in his flat, small-team, direct-communication Pirate style—all with a focus on the product.
Meanwhile, a Jobsian e-mail went out banning all smoking anywhere on the Apple campus. One employee ran into Steve, introduced himself, and ...