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

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Building on the Values

One of the big advantages for Steve after his return was the power of the Apple values. At the grass roots, the culture that had been established in 1981 was still alive and strong, despite all the changes in top management. Steve took advantage of the Apple workers who had been longing for his return to lead them out of troubled waters.

The standard version of the company’s financial condition at the time, according to Walter Isaacson and just about everyone else, is that the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. It’s the version that Steve preferred everyone to believe. Yet the truth is that Apple had some $1.5 billion in the bank—vastly more than enough to purchase NeXT while at the same time enriching Steve to the tune of 1.5 million Apple shares.

True, the products weren’t selling well and the company was bleeding cash, but there was more than enough cash on hand to give Steve time to get the company back on track. If Apple really had been weeks from filing bankruptcy, he never would have agreed to take control. Being in command of Apple when the company had to go out of business was the last thing he would ever have chosen to do.

As his early plan of action, Steve could have focused on touting all the products that were then in the Apple lineup. Instead he focused on renewing Apple’s original start-up culture. He did this by focusing on three basic things.

First, rethink the product strategy: instead of marketing a multitude of products, he wanted ...

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